The Indiana Hoosiers yet again found themselves in a hole on Sunday, but this time things were looking different. That is until normalcy came crashing back down.
Despite finding themselves down eight with less than 10 minutes left, the Hoosiers rallied and seemingly took control of the game.
Everything seemed to be clicking as the Hoosiers sank three consecutive three-pointers and tied the Ohio State Buckeyes at 47-47 with 4:54 remaining, and looked just like the team that beat the Michigan State Spartans last weekend when they pulled ahead 52-49 on a Devonte Green trey with 1:46 left.
Yet it was all unraveled in that last 1:46. After C.J. Jackson hit a back-breaking end-of-the-shot-clock three pointer to tie the game, Rob Phinisee drove to the basket only to get his layup attempt blocked out of bounds with seven seconds remaining on the shot clock and 46 seconds left on the game clock. IU Coach Archie Miller called one of his final two timeouts to draw up a play only for the Hoosiers to burn the second one because they couldn’t get the ball inbounds.
Yet at the cost of two timeouts, the Hoosiers never got a shot attempt up as Juwan Morgan forced a pass inside to a posted-up Romeo Langford that was deflected and picked up by the Buckeyes.
“We drew up a play that put Juwan (Morgan) and Romeo (Langford) in a position to try and either drive it from the top or get a post-up,” said Miller about the intent behind the play. “We tried to get the ball right at the basket with Romeo, maybe get fouled or get a quick bucket.”
Adding salt to the wound, Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann drew up a slip screen play for his team on the other end that resulted in an open basket due to a late rotation by the helpside defense.
With 20 seconds remaining and no timeouts left, the compounded result was Langford playing heroball and barely missing his three-point attempt. One last chance was given after a missed Ohio State free throw but again without that final timeout, a wave of chaos ensued and Green was forced to chuck a tough-looking shot with the clock going down.
In addition to blowing such a late lead at home, the Hoosiers’ 55-52 home loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes was a huge gut punch for a number of reasons.
- It was against a fellow Big Ten underachiever in Ohio State, which had gone from being comfortably in the NCAA Tournament to being on the bubble thanks to a five-game losing streak during conference play and is just now starting to recover from it.
- It was a game the Hoosiers needed so they could keep up all the positive momentum from the Michigan State game, with the Iowa loss seen as an acceptable outcome against a team that is one of the 25 best in the country playing well. Ohio State was on Indiana’s level and the Hoosiers should expect to win at home.
- Indiana blew a game where they had finally flipped the turnover script, this time being the aggressive team that scored a ton of points off the opponents’ turnovers, which ended up being 21 Hoosier points off of 15 Buckeye turnovers. It also wasted a clutch three-point shooting performance (four consecutive made three-pointers during the comeback) for a team that struggles to shoot from deep
Yet despite all the motivation you could ever need, it wasn’t enough and now the Hoosiers find themselves digging out of their biggest hole yet, as they will likely need to either win the rest of their regular season games or win the Big Ten Tournament to find themselves in the NCAA Tournament. While not impossible, the Hoosiers now find themselves dancing on an microscopically thin tightrope.