Bloomington, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The 22nd-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes go in search of their third straight Big Ten Conference victory when they pay a visit to the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday.
Ohio State suffered a surprising 71-65 home loss to Iowa in its Big Ten opener on Dec. 30, but the team has bounced back to thwart the upset bids of both Illinois (77-61) and Minnesota (74-72 OT). The Buckeyes, who are 13-3 overall, are playing only their true third road game here, their second in a row, and they have split their first two.
Indiana has won 11 of its first 15 bouts, but it is 1-1 in conference after beating Nebraska (70-65) on the road in the opener, and then getting whipped at Michigan State this past Monday, 70-50. The Hoosiers are 9-1 at home this season, with the lone setback coming in a shocking 88-86 setback to Eastern Washington back on Nov. 24.
Indiana leads the overall series with the Buckeyes 102-76, but the Buckeyes have won eight of the last 11 meetings, including four of the last six in Bloomington. Indiana won the only meeting a year ago, 72-64, and this bout marks the third consecutive game in the series played on the Hoosiers' home floor.
D'Angelo Russell nailed five 3-pointers en route to 27 points, as Ohio State slipped by Minnesota in overtime last Tuesday. Marc Loving added 13 points, while Shannon Scott came close to notching a triple-double as he finished with nine points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. As a team, the Buckeyes converted 50.8 percent of their field goal attempts, while allowing 45.0 percent success to the Golden Gophers. Amir Williams logged five blocks for OSU, which outscored UM in the paint, 46-40.
Russell has been Ohio State's most consistent scorer this season, as he averages 18.3 ppg to go with 82 assists. Scott has 121 helpers, as he is one of the top playmakers in the country. Loving nets 12.3 ppg, and Sam Thompson 10.1 ppg for a team that generates 82.8 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .522 overall, .405 from beyond the arc, and .712 from the foul line. The team's defensive effort yields only 60.3 ppg, with foes struggling to hit 38.7 percent of their total shots, which encompasses a 31.3 percent showing from downtown. Favorable margins in both rebounding (+4.5) and turnovers (+5.6) continue to keep the Buckeyes heading in the right direction.
Poor shooting and a dismal showing on the glass proved to be Indiana's undoing in its recent clash with Michigan State. The Hoosiers connected on only 28.3 percent of their field goal attempts, missing the mark on 19 of their 24 3- point tries along the way, while they were beaten badly in the rebounding battle by a ridiculous 50-28 margin. Yogi Ferrell was the only IU player to reach double figures in the 20-point loss, as he tallied 17 points. The other three starters combined for only 17 points.
Indiana is scoring with the best teams in the conference, as it puts up 82.9 ppg thanks to shooting efforts that come in at .482 overall, .393 from 3-point land, and .719 at the charity stripe. Conversely, the team's defensive effort allows for 71.5 ppg, and foes are having trouble converting at the stripe, doing so just 59.4 percent of the time. James Blackmon, Jr. (16.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Ferrell (16.3 ppg, 4.9 apg) and Troy Williams (12.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are the team's top offensive weapons.