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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, March 14, 2019 1:40 pm

Big Ten Tournament Halftime: Ohio State 35, Indiana 28

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

CHICAGO – The offense that Indiana flashed in the last few games against Illinois and Rutgers didn't travel with the Hoosiers to the United Center.

Ohio State has employed largely the same defensive game plan it used to great effect when the Buckeyes beat Indiana in Bloomington -- pack the lane and force the Hoosiers to shoot from the outside.

The Hoosiers had been having success by getting to the rim, but those lanes were mostly sealed against the Buckeyes. Even when it's rolling, Indiana is not an adept outside shooting team, and the Hoosiers opened the game 1 for 6 from beyond the 3-point line. They're 4 for 15 at halftime and shooting 30 percent overall.

When they do try to get to the rim, there have been far too many instances where a ball-handler dribbles into a crowd and forces up a bad shot.

The only reason the Hoosiers are not behind by more is because Ohio State has been almost as bad on offense.

The Buckeyes missed 11 of their first 14 shots, despite some good looks from the outside, and are shooting 41 percent overall. Indiana's defense has been good, though not great, and both teams have benefited more from bad shooting on the other side than any real defensive prowess.

On Indiana's side, the goal has been to make someone other than Kaleb Wesson beat the Hoosiers. Wesson has a double-team coming at him almost every time he touches the ball and is shooting just 3 for 9 in the first half. He did manage to hit a 3-pointer and has nine points, but if he's shooting from the outside, that's a win for the Indiana defense.

Some of Indiana's best offense, meanwhile, has been De'Ron Davis banging with Wesson in the post.

Davis is really the only Hoosier capable of handling Wesson physically and he's been able to get the Ohio State big man to bite on a couple of pump fakes in the post and get good shots at the rim. Davis has five points and four rebounds at halftime, and we'll probably see a lot of the lineup with him and Juwan Morgan in it.

Evan Fitzner played a lot in the first half and did his best, but the Buckeyes' physicality across the board makes this a tough matchup for him.

One problem for Indiana has been some carelessness with the ball. The Hoosiers turned it over just 13 times combined against Rutgers and Illinois, but have 10 giveaways at halftime, most of the live-ball variety. Those have led to 17 OSU points and have been a massive boost for a struggling Buckeye offense.

Indiana's passing was crisp the last two games, but Ohio State has made things much more difficult and the Hoosiers will have to adjust.

Despite playing its worst half in several weeks, the Hoosiers are in this game and can win it with a better second half. Ohio State has been better so far, but the Buckeyes aren't overwhelming. We'll find out in the second half how much Indiana wants that NCAA Tournament bid.

dsinn@jg.net