BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Ohio State coach Thad Matta thought his team could overpower Indiana.
The Buckeyes followed the game plan perfectly.
On a night when Buckeyes star Evan Turner was held in check, William Buford scored 21 points, Dallas Lauderdale matched his career high with 14 and No. 13 Ohio State routed the Hoosiers 69-52 on Wednesday.
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”We had to come in with the mindset of being in attack mode, and I thought we got off to a great start,” Matta said. ”We told those guys that they had the possibility of having a big night.”
Big? Oh, it was better than that.
The Buckeyes (19-6, 9-3 Big Ten) were dominant in nearly every facet. They outshot the Hoosiers from the field. They made 13 of 16 free throws. They committed only six turnovers, compared with Indiana’s 14, and they blocked more than twice as many shots as the Hoosiers.
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Ohio State.
Lauderdale, a junior, also matched his career highs for rebounds (eight) and blocks (seven). Senior Kyle Madsen scored a career-high 11 points, and Buford added seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Ohio State, winners of eight straight conference games, outscored Indiana 40-28 in the paint and 18-3 off turnovers to move into a three-way tie with Michigan State and Illinois for first place in the Big Ten.
About the only thing that went wrong was when Buford’s windmill dunk clanked off the back of the rim early in the second half.
”As someone with very little jumping ability, there’s nothing more that I love to see than an Ohio State player dunk one,” Matta said. ”But I told him, ‘Let’s just get the two points.”’
Buford, Lauderdale and Madsen more than made up for Turner, who played just 3 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. The five-time conference player of the week finished with 10 points and six assists.
For Indiana, it was the latest bleak chapter in a season full of tough lessons.
The Hoosiers (9-14, 3-8) have lost five in a row overall and four straight against the Buckeyes – their longest skid in the rivalry since 1968-70. They shot less than 40 percent from the field for the fourth time in five games, and the blowout prompted many in the late-arriving crowd to depart long before the final buzzer.
Christian Watford finished with 15 points and freshman Jordan Hulls added a season-high 13 to lead Indiana. The only other player to reach double figures was Verdell Jones, who spent most of the second half in foul trouble.
Even coach Tom Crean struggled for answers.
”At halftime, it was like if I could have found Anthony Robbins and Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey, you know, I felt like old Marcus Welby,” he said after speaking to his players in the locker room for about 50 minutes. ”I felt like we were going to fall apart if we didn’t get some spirit back.”
Don’t expect things to change much in the next week.
The Hoosiers visit No. 11 Wisconsin on Saturday, then host No. 10 Michigan State on Tuesday.
The goal: Avoid a repeat of what happened against Ohio State, which opened the game by scoring the first nine points.
When Turner sat down after picking up his second foul with 17:25 to go in the first half, the Hoosiers rallied to get within 13-9 and then 18-17 with 7:48 left.
Ohio State answered by exploiting Indiana’s soft middle.
”I think we started getting transition buckets and really started clicking. We adjusted to how they were playing,” Turner said. ”We adjusted to the officiating and we made plays and we made shots.”
The Buckeyes closed the half on a 16-3 run with 14 points coming from within 2 feet of the basket. Indiana, meanwhile, went scoreless over the last 6:07, leaving the Hoosiers in a 34-20 halftime deficit.
Indiana got as close as 44-34 early in the second half, but Ohio State again took control inside. The Buckeyes scored four straight points and then made four straight free throws that ignited a 14-3 run to make it 58-37 with 11 minutes to play.
That’s when fans began filing out, and the Hoosiers never challenged again.
”The first few possessions, we were like a windshield wiper with our offense and we were talking about getting inside the defense,” Matta said. ”All of a sudden the big guys started moving it a little bit more, and then it forces them to make some decisions about do I go or do I stay and Will was able to punch the gaps and get in there.”