COLUMBUS, Ohio – Trayce Jackson-Davis wants everyone to know Indiana is not soft.
The term was hurled at the Hoosiers – by whom, Jackson-Davis did not say – at the end of their 78-59 loss to No. 4 Ohio State at Value City Arena on Saturday. The Indiana forward insisted it is not true.
“I know me and my teammates aren't soft,” the 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball said. “All we have to do is work harder and push forward to the next game.”
What is true, however, is that Indiana got outmuscled against the Buckeyes, who have now won nine of their last 10 and six in a row. Ohio State was the more physical team at Value City Arena on Saturday; Hoosiers coach Archie Miller admitted as much.
“There's a reason they've climbed the ladder as the season has gone on,” Miller said of Ohio State. “The way their guys compete, in terms of the boards, the post, how they defend, they can really ruffle you and rattle you with how physical the game is.
“There wasn't anything we could do today to stem them from being able to physically overwhelm us,” the coach added. “They imposed physically just a different way for us to feel in the game.”
Jackson-Davis scored 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, but the rest of the Hoosiers (11-9, 6-7 Big Ten) shot just 31% and Ohio State (17-4, 11-4) racked up 20 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds.
The defeat snaps a modest two-game winning streak for the Hoosiers, who have not won three in a row since December 2019.
The high-water mark for the Hoosiers came in the first three minutes when Al Durham and Armaan Franklin made back-to-back 3s to put the Hoosiers up 6-2.
Then, everything stopped. Indiana went scoreless for the next 7:14, missing seven straight shots and turning the ball over six times. Ohio State took advantage of the Hoosiers' offensive ineptitude, scoring 19 points in a row to open a 21-6 lead midway through the half.
Duane Washington and E.J. Liddell combined for 15 of the 19 Buckeye points during the run. Liddell had a team-high 19 points.
Saturday marked the third straight game Indiana has faced a deficit of at least 13 points in the first half. After coming back to win games against Iowa and Northwestern following such deficits, the slow start finally bit the Hoosiers against Ohio State.
“I think we're ready to play,” Jackson-Davis said of his team's starts. “At the beginning of the game, we were getting stops, but we just weren't finishing (on offense). ... And then our defense collapsed. ... That enabled them to get a lead early.”
Jackson-Davis broke the Buckeye run with a free throw at the 10:06 mark, his first point of the game after he missed a couple of shots from close range early. He had nine points down the stretch in the first half to help Indiana close to within 38-28 at halftime and then had a layup and a dunk on back-to-back possessions early in the second half to make it 45-40.
But that was as close as Indiana got before Ohio State embarked on a backbreaking 9-0 run that included a C.J. Walker 3-pointer. Indiana was never within single digits again.
Jerome Hunter, who grew up in Pickerington, Ohio, less than 20 miles from Columbus, had 10 points for the Hoosiers, though he picked up a technical foul in the second half.
Indiana turned the ball over 15 times and the Buckeyes scored 21 points off those IU miscues. Starting guards Franklin and Durham combined for seven giveaways.
“They have to make us better from this,” Miller said. “We have to learn from it and move on.”