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  • Associated Press Indiana's De'Ron Davis reacts to an offensive foul call during the second half of the Hoosiers' 79-75 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. Davis had nine points. 

Friday, March 15, 2019 1:00 am

Ohio State 79 Indiana 75

Hoosiers' NCAA hopes take blow

Green leads valiant comeback bid after trailing by 20

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

CHICAGO – The poised, confident Indiana team that took the court for the last month did not show up until the final seven minutes against Ohio State on Thursday, and the Hoosiers likely saw their NCAA Tournament hopes go up in smoke as a result.

No. 9 seed Indiana sliced a 20-point second-half deficit down to just two in the final seconds, but the Hoosiers were unable to complete the comeback and fell to the eighth-seeded Buckeyes 79-75 in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center despite a career-high 26 points from Devonte Green.

The loss probably ends Indiana's chances of securing an NCAA Tournament bid, with a spot in the NIT the most likely outcome for the Hoosiers (17-15).

Despite long odds of getting a bid to the field of 68, senior forward Juwan Morgan made his team's case, predicting the Hoosiers could be “dangerous” if they sneak in.

“I definitely think we are (an NCAA Tournament team),” said Morgan, who had 12 points and seven rebounds. “I think our wins speak for themselves in the nonconference and late here down the stretch. We beat some great teams that are gonna be in the NCAA Tournament, and I think our résumé speaks for itself.”

Indiana trailed by five with less than 10 seconds to play, but Green gave the Hoosiers one last chance when he buried a desperation 3-pointer from close to 30 feet out that made it 77-75.

The junior guard had the best game of his Hoosiers career, hitting a blistering 8 for 10 from beyond the 3-point line and adding four assists. He scored 20 points for just the second time in his career.

“(Green) was all we had there for a while,” coach Archie Miller said. “I thought Devonte here in the last three weeks has really raised his level of play. He was great (Wednesday) in our workout. He's the one guy, he's playing with really good confidence right now.”

Indiana desperately tried to steal the inbounds pass after Green's late 3 and harassed the inbounder into nearly falling over. As he slipped backward, however, he was able to force the ball into guard C.J. Jackson and Indiana had to foul.

Miller was almost 10 feet out on to the court after the whistle, screaming and gesticulating for a travel call, but none was forthcoming and Jackson buried two free throws to seal the game.

The Buckeyes (19-13) led almost the entire first half and came out strong in the second half, pushing their advantage to double digits early in the half and continuing to extend it until the game's later stages. Luther Muhammad hit a 3-pointer with 7:30 left to put Ohio State ahead 63-43.

Indiana committed 17 turnovers in the game, a significant factor in Ohio State opening a huge lead. The Buckeyes scored 24 points off those turnovers, which were mostly live-ball giveaways.

“I thought offensively that was probably as poor as we've played here in a long time,” Miller said. “Our turnovers in the first half really broke us down.”

With their backs to the wall, the Hoosiers finally began playing the way they had during their recent four-game winning streak. A 13-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers from Green and another from Evan Fitzner trimmed the deficit to just seven with 4:20 remaining and got the Indiana rooting section into the game for the first time all day.

“I knew everyone would go out there and fight as much as they could,” Morgan said. “We just didn't start off that way, but I couldn't be more proud of how we fought at the end of the game.”

The loss continued a long run of Big Ten Tournament disappointments for the Hoosiers, who are 0-2 in the event under Miller.

Indiana hasn't won more than one game in the tournament since 2003 and has lost its first game 10 times in the last 15 years.

dsinn@jg.net