After wins on Dec. 21, Indiana and Ohio State were 11-1, and both teams had the look of programs ready to take a step forward this season.
Since then, the script has been flipped.
Indiana has gone 4-5 after their win over Notre Dame at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis, while Ohio State has suffered through a 2-6 stretch. Included in that Buckeye slide is a 12-point loss at Indiana three weeks ago.
Ohio State will be looking to get their season back on track in Columbus. And they will be seeking revenge against the Hoosiers.
Meanwhile, IU is seeking their first two-game season sweep of the Buckeyes since 2008.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (15-6, 5-5) at Ohio State (13-7, 3-6)
- Tip time: Saturday / 12 p.m. ET
- Location: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
- Television: ESPN (Stream) / Jason Benetti and Robbie Hummel
- Series: Indiana leads 108-86 (Last meeting: Indiana won 66-54 on Jan. 11)
- Point Spread: Vegas likes Ohio State by around 7.5 points. KenPom likes Ohio State by 8.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Ohio State Statistical Leaders
- Kaleb Wesson (F) 13.9 ppg
- Duane Washington (G) 11.2 ppg
- Kaleb Wesson (F) 9.6 rpg
- Kyle Young (F) 6.2 rpg
- C.J. Walker (G) 3.1 apg
A look at KenPom No. 13 Ohio State’s noteworthy metrics
Turnover troubles. In conference games, Ohio State is the worst team in the league with a 19.3 turnover percentage. OSU had 16 miscues in the first meeting with Indiana, including seven by freshman point guard DJ Carton. He will not play on Saturday.
Ohio State only has one true point guard on its roster (C.J. Walker) with Carton out of the lineup.
A three-point contest? Ohio State shoots the best percentage in the Big Ten from three-point range in league games at 36.9 percent. They have also given up the highest percentage from long range (37.1 percent) during conference contests.
For the season, OSU is making 38.2 percent from deep which is good for No. 16 nationally. Indiana is only shooting 28.2 percent in Big Ten games from three-point range, but they did make 6-of-12 in the first meeting.
A defense on the decline. On the season, OSU’s defensive metrics are stellar, ranking in the top 20 in both adjusted defensive efficiency (91.4) and effective field goal percentage defense (44.1 percent). In Big Ten play, things are headed in the wrong direction. OSU is No. 10 in the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency (104.2) and No. 12 in effective field goal percentage (51 percent).
While OSU is No. 5 in the country on the season as a whole allowing makes on just 41.3 percent of two-point shots, that figure has gone up significantly in league play. Big Ten opponents are converting 48.2 percent of two-point attempts.
More game coverage:
- Miller, Phinisee and Davis Preview Ohio State
- Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann Previews Indiana
- Buckeye Point Guard DJ Carton to Miss Saturday’s Game
- DJ Carton Situation Brings Back Difficult Memories for Miller
HOOSIERS NEED TO EARN THEIR WAY BACK TO THE FREE THROW LINE
In the first meeting against Ohio State, IU spent a good portion of the afternoon at the free throw line.
The Hoosiers had 36 attempts from the charity stripe on Jan. 11 in Bloomington. At one point in the season Indiana was averaging nearly 30 attempts per game, so their parade to the foul line didn’t particularly stand out that day.
The Hoosiers only made 20 of those 36 attempts, but even that 55.6 percent performance translates to a points per possession figure that will win most games.
22.5 percent of Indiana’s points on the season have come from the foul line. Even if they aren’t making a great percentage, the Hoosiers depend on drawing fouls and getting to the stripe as part of their formula for success.
“You know, it’s been something we’ve been built on,” head coach Archie Miller said on Friday. “If you look at our first game against Ohio State, the free-throw line played a big role. I think we shot 36 free throws. Now, we missed a ton, but we shot 36 free throws in the game, and you look at our aggressiveness in transition on the glass, in the post, on our drives, we played with great toughness on offense.”
The parade has come to an abrupt halt over the last five games.
Indiana has averaged just 14.4 free throw attempts since their victory over Ohio State.
On the spot immediately after a tough loss to Maryland on Sunday, Miller said he had no idea why the Hoosiers were no longer getting to the free throw line.
He has since had time to more closely evaluate what is going on.
“In particular against Maryland and in particular on Wednesday at Penn State, we’re playing very soft around the basket,” Miller said on Friday. “And you’re not going to get calls when you’re playing away from the defense. The defense is physical in this league, and you have to be able to play through the contact, and right now we’re not responding to that contact here in the last couple games.”
Rather than attacking the rim, the Hoosiers are settling in the half court in Miller’s estimation, and not capitalizing on transition opportunities.
“The aggressive team is going to get to the line,” Miller said. “Penn State did it the other day, and we’ve typically been that team, but we weren’t here recently, and I think just in talking to our players, watching film with them and talking about what we’ve got going on in and around the basket, there’s way too many possessions of fading away, there’s way too many possessions right now of playing away from the rim, not playing in the front, and in transition in particular, our post presence and our ability to get the ball down the floor isn’t as good.”
In Sunday’s contest against Maryland and IU’s road win at Nebraska, the offense was clicking, and an inability to get to the foul line didn’t stand out. But when it comes to games like Penn State and Rutgers, when points are hard to come, Indiana has to find a way to get back to their identity.
And Miller isn’t prepared to rely on the officiating to get there.
“The free-throw line plays a big factor in our team’s success, and here recently I think we have a lot to do with it,” Miller said. “It’s not the officiating. It’s our inability right now to play through the contact and be aggressive and consistently continue to come at it the way that we need to.”
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no additional cost to you