- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick thoughts following a bounce-back, 81-68 win for Indiana over Ohio State on Sunday afternoon at Value City Arena.
Overview: Indiana might have got the order wrong, but it essentially got what it needed from its road trip.
Ohio State didn’t get anything out of its tough stretch this week.
The No. 1 Hoosiers responded from a disappointing loss down the stretch at Illinois with a thoroughly impressive outing against the Buckeyes to earn a split on the two-game stand away from Assembly Hall. After coming up short earlier this week against rival Michigan, No. 10 Ohio State had no answer as it was beaten in nearly every phase of the game in a loss that will make contending for a Big Ten title a chore now.
The Hoosiers used a balanced attack in the first half to build a lead, and they rode Victor Oladipo’s athleticism and Cody Zeller’s interior presence after that to extend it and deliver a win that surely eased the sting from their loss to Illinois and allowed them to keep pace on top of the Big Ten standings.
Oladipo and Zeller both finished with more than 20 points, a 1-2 combination that was more than enough to offset a 26-point outburst from Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas.
Turning point: The first big run Olapido put together couldn’t get rid of Ohio State. The next one made clear the Buckeyes wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the Hoosiers.
After Ohio State came out of intermission and started chipping away at Indiana, Oladipo picked up where he left off in the first half by flipping in a hook shot and burying a pull-up 3-pointer that pushed the lead right back to nine points before the first media timeout of the half quieted the home crowd and sent the Hoosiers on their way.
Key player: There was no counter for Oladipo’s athleticism, and he routinely made Ohio State pay on both ends of the floor.
The junior guard stuffed the stats sheet as usual and had no shortage of head-turning plays despite the aggressive defense the Buckeyes threw at him, but he was at his best at the end of the first half as the Hoosiers took control and built a solid eight-point cushion heading into the locker room. Oladipo scored eight of the last 12 points for Indiana in a flurry that put his versatile skills on full display.
There was a reverse lay-in on an alley-oop. That was followed by an emphatic two-handed slam after corralling a loose ball. And after Ohio State had seemingly come up with a critical bucket to cut the margin to six only a few seconds before the half, Oladipo drew a foul with his speed coming up the right sideline that produced another easy couple of points and kept the lead at a comfortable margin.
Key stat: The Hoosiers rarely wasted a possession and more often than not knocked down any look they had on the offensive end. Against a typically stingy Ohio State, Indiana connected on 53 percent of its field goals and knocked down 7 of 18 attempts from 3-point range -- while turning the ball over just nine times.
Miscellaneous: Buckeyes coach Thad Matta couldn’t deliver some of his fairly common success against top-ranked teams, falling to 8-11 all time now against No. 1 squads after dropping the decision to the Hoosiers. ... Indiana had lost 10 straight road games against top-10 opponents entering today's matchup. The last win in that situation for the Hoosiers came more than a decade ago, when they knocked off Notre Dame on Dec. 5, 2000. ... It took more than 38 minutes, but Aaron Craft finally nabbed the steal he needed to move into the top 10 in Big Ten history. The hard-nosed defender had a hard time coming up with it, but the 215th steal of his career moved him up to No. 10 in conference history.
Next up: After taking some punishment during a brutal week against two of the nation’s best teams, Ohio State gets as much of a breather as it might have left in the regular season with a home date on Thursday against Northwestern. The Buckeyes are right back to the Big Ten grind after that with a weekend trip to surging Wisconsin.
Indiana should have a bit of a letup coming its way as well as it returns home from its two-game road swing with a matchup Wednesday against Nebraska. The Hoosiers stay at Assembly Hall for another critical conference date against Purdue on Saturday.