Columbus, OH – Victor Oladipo had a career-high 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds, as No. 1 Indiana took down 10th-ranked Ohio State, 81-68, on Sunday in a Top-10 battle between Big Ten foes.
Cody Zeller and Christian Watford followed in double-figures with 24 and 20 points, respectively, for the Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten), who bounced back from a last-second loss at Illinois on Thursday and won at Ohio State for the first time since 2008. Zeller also added eight boards and only missed three of his 11 field goal attempts and Watford connected on 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the victory.
"Our guys were locked and loaded," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "They really were. Bob Hammel sent me a great email the other day and I've thought about it a bunch - it said that there is a big difference between having will and having an edge. Our team really had an edge. They came with an edge, they practice with an edge, they woke this morning and ate breakfast with an edge and they carried it over. Sometimes that edge can be short-lived, but they are driven by the right things. They knew they didn't play as well the other night and that we were walking into as tough of environment as you're going to get in the country."
Deshaun Thomas paced Ohio State with 26 points and seven rebounds and Aaron Craft contributed 16 points and six boards for the Buckeyes (17-6, 7-4), who dropped their second straight following a four-game winning streak. OSU fell at rival No. 3 Michigan in overtime on Tuesday.
"It's tough for sure, but we just didn't have what we needed to win this game today," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "We didn't do some of the things we had to in order to win, we have to finish through contact better."
Indiana came out firing and led 11-4 just five minutes into the contest. The Buckeyes missed five shots during the surge, the worst coming when Sam Thompson's missed dunk led to an easy Jordan Hulls fastbreak layup to stretch the lead to seven points.
OSU responded with a quick 9-0 flurry as Thomas nailed a triple with 11:35 remaining to make it 13-11.
The teams traded baskets, and Oladipo brought the Hoosiers back with a layup that tied the game at 18-18, which helped kick start a 13-5 run capped off by Watford, who nailed a fastbreak 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 29-23 with 3:51 left in the first half.
Craft nailed two free throws to bring Ohio State within four points, but Oladipo and Zeller provided all the offense for IU over the final 3:16 of the half, extending its lead to 41-33 after 20 minutes of play. Oladipo had eight points alone during the span.
The Buckeyes opened the second half to get within 43-39, before Oladipo struck again, this time for a jumper and a 3-pointer on the next possession to increase the advantage to 48-39 with 15 1/2 minutes remaining.
The pressure continued to mount for the home team around the midpoint of the second half, as Indiana's lead grew to 62-46, while OSU missed seven shots and lacked consistency on offense. The 16-point deficit was the largest the Buckeyes had faced all season at home.
Zeller's baseline jumper with 4:26 to play made it 69-55 before Craft's trey exactly one minute later closed the deficit to 69-58.
The hosts got within 72-62 after Craft fought back once again, scoring back- to-back layups within a span of 19 seconds, but it was too little too late with under 1 1/2 minutes to play.
OSU got within eight points three times in the final 1:18, although Indiana went 5-of-6 from the free throw line to close the game and secure the victory -- its third this season versus a Top-10 opponent.
"Experience is a big part of imposing your will on a team," Matta said. "This team has shown they can play great basketball, but don't have a ton of experience in imposing their will."
Indiana's loss at Illinois Thursday marked the fifth consecutive week that the nation's No. 1-ranked team has lost ... Indiana leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 101-75, although the Buckeyes have won seven of the last nine meetings ... Ohio State is 8-11 all-time against AP No. 1 teams ... The last two times OSU faced a top-ranked Indiana team (1983, 1993) it pulled off the upset ... Will Sheehey was the only IU player to register any points off the bench. He finished with five ... Ohio State shot a mere 23.1 percent from behind the arc (3-of-13).