CHICAGO — Indiana nearly erased a 20-point lead against Ohio State on Thursday, but the result was the same as it has typically been for the Hoosiers at the Big Ten Tournament — a devastating loss.
The Buckeyes (19-13) held off Indiana for a 79-75 victory and a spot in Friday’s Big Ten quarterfinal round. For Indiana (17-15), the loss likely means a third straight year without an NCAA Tournament berth.
Indiana coach Archie Miller isn’t certain what to expect from the NCAA Tournament committee.
“Are we capable? Yes. Did we do enough? I’m not sure,” he said. “I know if we are in the tournament, our guys are capable of winning a game.”
Ohio State led 63-43 after Luther Muhammad scored with 7:30 remaining, but the Hoosiers — and Devonte Green, in particular — made a late push to keep their Big Ten and NCAA hopes alive. Green started the rally with one of his career-best eight 3-pointers at the 7:10 mark.
Green, who finished with a career-high and game-high 26 points, hit another 3 to get the Hoosiers within 63-54. De’Ron Davis followed with a bucket in the paint to close a 13-0 Indiana run.
“I knew based on how much respect we had for their team and for Archie, they were going to battle,” Holtmann said of the Hoosiers. “That’s just in their DNA. I knew it might get tight, but our players weathered the storm.”
Keyshawn Woods, who made big shot after big shot, put the Buckeyes up 70-60 with 1:57 to go.
Indiana had one last run in it.
Davis made a layup before Romeo Langford scored five straight points to narrow the Hoosiers’ deficit to 72-69 with 55 seconds left. However, the Hoosiers committed turnovers on back-to-back possessions, and C.J. Jackson made two clutch free throws with three seconds remaining to seal the victory.
“We knew they were going to come back hard,” Jackson said. “We just have to be who we are with those types of situations and continue to fight and stay together, and we did that.”
Green, whose previous career high of 20 came last January against the Buckeyes, was 9-of-15 from the field overall and made eight of his 10 3-point attempts. The eight 3s is a Big Ten Tournament record.
“I thought Devonte, here in the last three weeks, has really raised his level of play,” Miller said. “He’s the one guy who’s playing with great confidence right now. Without him, I don’t think we would’ve even been close.”
Senior Juwan Morgan had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Romeo Langford had nine points and six boards. Langford scored Indiana’s first three points but didn’t score again until 1:12 remained in the contest.
Woods led a balanced Buckeye attack with 18 points. He was 9-of-13 from the floor and added seven rebounds and four assists.
“I thought he was tremendous in every way,” Holtmann said. “He looks like a guy … who isn’t ready to see his career over any time soon. That’s what you hope for in seniors.”
Jackson and Kaleb Wesson scored 17 points apiece. Wesson, who missed the last three games for violating team rules, also had 13 boards. Jackson scored 15 of his 17 after halftime.
Indiana started the game 2-of-14 with three turnovers. Fortunately, the Buckeyes weren’t much better early. The Hoosiers went on a 6-3 run to tie the game at 15-apiece on a Green floater.
Behind the trio of Andre Wesson, Kaleb Wesson and Woods, Ohio State closed the half on a 13-6 run. Woods, who was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in the first half, knocked down a fadeaway jumper at the halftime horn to give the Buckeyes a 35-28 edge.
Behind Jackson and Woods, the Buckeyes scored 28 of the first 43 second-half points to take their largest lead at 63-43.