BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Troy Williams and his Indiana teammates had something to prove Saturday.
Yes, they’ve got the message about what it takes to win. And, yes, they’ve finally figured out how to deliver a closing combination.
Williams scored 15 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and helped the Hoosiers remain poised as No. 22 Ohio State made one last charge at the Hoosiers, who held on for a 69-66 upset.
“I think they learned a lot this week,” coach Tom Crean said, referring to an embarrassing 20-point loss Monday night at Michigan State. “We’ve been getting mentally tougher all year, but it’s not consistent yet. I thought our talk improved during the game. I thought our leadership improved during the game.”
Williams delivered three highlight plays including one sequence when he dunked the ball on a fast break, then raced to the other end and swatted away an Ohio State shot. Freshman shooting star James Blackmon Jr. scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half despite making only one 3-pointer.
A year ago, the Hoosiers repeatedly allowed late leads to slip away .
This time, after nearly blowing away a 10-point lead in the final 3 1/2 minutes, they showed they could hang on thanks to four free throws from Yogi Ferrell in the final 21 seconds and D’Angelo Russell’s errant 3 at the buzzer.
Indiana now has more wins (18) over ranked teams since 2011-12 than any school in the nation except Kansas.
“We tried to get our edge back, our swagger back and we just went so hard in practice and it happened tonight in the game, too,” Blackmon said.
Ohio State (13-4, 2-2) came up just short.
Shannon Scott scored 16 points and Russell added 13 for the Buckeyes, who charged back with a 13-4 run to get within 65-64. Sam Thompson even had a chance to tie it after a putback with 32 seconds left, but he couldn’t complete the three-point play.
“We didn’t do the little things, we are down three and we foul with a minute or whatever and we just said ‘Don’t foul, just stay solid’ and now we’re down five,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “Those are the types of plays that you have to stay sound.”
The Hoosiers learned that the hard way.
“I think it’s more about momentum than it is about that (grinding it out),” Crean said. “I think it’s learning to play through things. I thought we were losing our energy a little bit at one point, and that dunk Troy had brought it back. You need those doses of energy that continue to bring you momentum.”
Ohio State: Starting forward Marc Loving went down underneath the basket in the first half and stayed on the floor through two full possessions, reaching for his left knee. He eventually limped to the bench, iced the knee, limped back out after halftime before returning to the game. He still wasn’t himself, finishing with seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. The Buckeyes said he had a bruise.
Indiana: It took Indiana five minutes to figure out how to defend Ohio State. Then the Hoosiers clamped down. After allowing the Buckeyes to make four of their first nine shots, they limited Ohio State to 19 of 58 shooting, 32.7 percent, the rest of the game. The Buckeyes also finished 3 of 21 on 3s (14.3 percent).
Ohio State: Host Michigan on Tuesday.
Indiana: Host Penn State on Tuesday.
ON THE REBOUND
Since Crean arrived in Bloomington, he has emphasized the need to play defense and win the rebounding battle. The Hoosiers dominated both areas Saturday. In addition to the big defensive showing, Indiana had a 48-39 edge on the glass. On one possession, Indiana actually had five shots.
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