Bloomington, IN (Sports Network) - The second-ranked Indiana Hoosiers can
clinch the Big Ten Conference regular-season title on Tuesday night, as they
play host to the 14th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at Assembly Hall.
Ohio State (21-7) has stepped up its play in recent weeks with wins in four of
its last five games, including a 63-53 victory at Northwestern on Feb. 28. The
Buckeyes' recent surge, combined with the fall of a few other squads, has
allowed them to forge their way into a four-way tie for second place along
with Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin, all at 11-5 in conference, with
plenty still to be decided in terms of Big Ten Tournament seeding with two
games left in the regular season.
Indiana (25-4, 13-3) relinquished its top spot in the latest AP poll to
Gonzaga after suffering a 77-73 defeat at Minnesota last Tuesday, but it was
able to bounce back nicely with a 73-60 triumph over Iowa on Saturday night.
The Hoosiers are 17-1 at home, and this is the final game being played at
Assembly Hall this season.
Indiana went into Columbus on Feb. 10 and handed the Buckeyes an 81-68 defeat,
improving its lead in the all-time series to 101-75. Ohio State had won seven
of the previous eight meetings.
The Buckeyes suffered a scare late in their game against Northwestern, as they
trailed by one with just four minutes remaining, but they got their act
together and finished the contest on a 15-4 run to come out victorious.
Leading the way in the triumph was Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who shot 6-of-11 from
3-point range on his way to a season-high 24 points. Deshaun Thomas added 19
points and seven rebounds, and Shannon Scott served as the team's primary
playmaker with eight assists.
Ohio State has been excellent at both ends of the floor this season, scoring
70.0 ppg on 45.3 percent efficiency from the field while holding opponents to
less than 60 ppg, and its efforts are usually paced by Thomas. The 6-foot-7
junior leads the Big Ten in scoring with 19.8 ppg, and he leads the squad in
rebounding as well with 6.1 boards per contest. Smith, Jr.'s latest outburst
allowed him to join the double-digit scorers' club with 10.3 ppg, while Aaron
Craft brings his style of gritty play to the backcourt with 9.4 ppg, 4.4 apg
and 1.9 spg.
Despite shooting less than 39 percent from the floor the last time out,
Indiana was still able to take care of business against Iowa by shooting 29-
of-42 from the free-throw line and holding the Hawkeyes to an equally-
lackluster 38.2 percent field goal shooting. It was just another day at the
office for Cody Zeller, who tallied 22 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and
two steals. Kevin Ferrell logged 19 points and five assists, while Victor
Oladipo tacked on 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Hoosiers own the nation's second-highest scoring offense, pouring in 81.9
ppg on a lofty 49.4 percent accuracy from the field, and their stout defense
allows them to net in excess of 20 ppg more than their opponents. Zeller is in
the midst of an All-America-caliber campaign with 16.5 ppg (on 57.3 percent
field goal shooting), 8.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg and 1.2 spg. Oladipo (14.0 ppg, 6.0
rpg, 2.3 spg) is also extremely efficient, draining greater than 63 percent of
his field goal attempts. Christian Watford (12.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Jordan
Hulls (10.7 ppg) both make 3-pointers at greater than a 48 percent clip, and
Will Sheehey adds a spark off the bench with 9.8 ppg.
The Sports Network