Buckeyes Rebound, Knock off Indiana in OT

Malaki Branham

22nd ranked Ohio State let an 11 point lead slip away midway through the second half, only to come back from four down in the waning seconds, forcing overtime, where they took control and avenged the loss in Bloomington, defeating visiting Indiana 80-69 to improve to 17-7 and 10-5 in Big Ten play. The loss for the Hoosiers was their fifth straight defeat, falling to 16-10 and 7-9 in conference play. The Buckeyes were led by Malaki Branham, who poured in 27 with E.J. Liddell adding 16 points and 7 rebounds and Gene Brown chipped in 10 points and 6 rebounds. Indiana got 16 from Xavier Johnson and 13 each from Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson along with 11 from Parker Stewart in the loss. 

It took nearly two minutes for either team to score but the Hoosiers finally did just prior to the 18 minute mark. The Buckeyes, unable to take advantage of three early Hoosier turnovers, finally got on the board via a Zed Key left handed hook on the left baseline to tie it. Indiana answered with a tip dunk by All Big Ten candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis, but a nice inside out on the other end had Key finding Gene Brown for three on the right point to give Ohio State their first lead. A long jumper by the Hoosiers put Indiana on top at the first media timeout, 6-5 and Jamari Wheeler hitting the bench with two early fouls. Malaki Branham, taking it one on one from the top got into the paint and knocked down a 12 footer with a silky smooth stroke, putting Ohio State back in front. A Jackson-Davis bucket was followed by a pair of Branham freebies keeping the Buckeyes ahead by a point. Indiana countered with a pair of free throws of their own but a Brown floater off the back iron dropped to keep the Buckeyes ahead. The Buckeyes extended the lead when E.J. Liddell hit a fade away from 15, but a pair of Indiana free throws cut the lead back to one. Brown drilled a pull up jumper from 15 on Ohio State’s next possession and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State led 15-12. Wheeler extended the lead, getting to the rim off the bounce as both teams were getting careless with the basketball.  A long triple by the Hoosiers near the Ohio State bench cut the lead to two and another Hoosier three out of the under 8 timeout put Indiana back in front. Meechie Johnson answered with a three from the right wing that gave the Buckeyes the lead again. Kyle Young’s jump hook mid lane put Ohio State up four, but the Hoosiers got a jumper to fall to cut the lead back to two.  A Key tip dunk with authority got the fans out of their seats, but a second opportunity for the Hoosiers led to a dunk to cut the lead back to two. Branham downed a pair of free throws on the other end and at the under 4 timeout, Ohio State led 26-22. Out of the timeout, Indiana banged down a pair of free throws to get within two, but Branham got to the rim off the bounce to answer. After an IU bucket, Liddell drilled a three from the top and after an Indiana miss, Branham got to the rim for a deuce and the Buckeyes were up 7. Indiana scored to cut the lead to 5 and that’s how the half would end with Ohio State leading Indiana 33-28. The Buckeyes shot 45% from the floor and just 3 of 10 from downtown, while holding Indiana to 40%, including 2 of 6 from long range. Malaki Branham led Ohio State at the half with 10 and Gene Brown added 7. Trayce Jackson-Davis led Indiana with 10. 

Indiana scored first in the second half, but Liddell came off the pick and roll for a dunk to keep the Buckeyes up five. After Indiana scored on their end, the Buckeyes scored the next five. Key scored on a jump hook and Brown took a Liddell feed and drilled a triple from the left wing to put Ohio State up 8. Indiana answered with a three of their own, but Liddell scored in the lane to answer. After Indiana split a pair of free throws, Branham got to the rim and scored on a reverse lay-in and Indiana wanted to talk about it, calling a timeout with 16:01 left in the game and Ohio State leading 44-36. The Buckeyes extended the lead when Branham cut backdoor and took a Liddell pass for a dunk. Indiana cut into the lead with a corner three but the Buckeyes quickly answered when Branham drained a triple from the left wing. The next couple minutes, the scoring came from the stripe. Young split a pair, Indiana drilled two and Wheeler split a pair to increase the lead to 10 and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State led 51-41. Four straight Indiana points cut the lead to six before Young dropped a pair of free throws to put Ohio State back ahead by 8. Indiana cut back into the lead, hitting a three from the left corner and after a ridiculous flagrant call on E.J. Liddell, Indiana knocked down two free throws to cut the lead to just three. Branham got to the rim off the bounce to increase the lead to five but 4 straight Hoosier points forced Chris Holtmann to call timeout with the once double digit Buckeye lead now trimmed to just 55-54 with 7:11 to go. More poor officiating on both ends led to a pair of Hoosier free throws giving Indiana a lead. As Ohio State’s offense got stagnant, Indiana took advantage, hitting a triple to go up 4 and after some wild action on both ends, Ohio State took a timeout, trailing 59-55 and being outscored 18-4 over nearly the last 9 minutes. Two Branham free throws cut the Hoosier lead to two, breaking a 9-0 Indiana run, but Indiana answered with a bucket to go back up 4. Two Liddell free throws trimmed the deficit back to two, but a Hoosier bucket near the end of the shot clock answered. Two empty Buckeye trips and Indiana took a timeout with just 1:23 to go and the Hoosiers leading 63-59. After Ohio State forced an Indiana turnover, Branham knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to two with 56 seconds left. After the Hoosiers missed a long jumper at the end of the shot clock, Branham found Liddell for a dunk with 5 seconds to play and the Hoosiers scrambled for a jumper that was partially blocked at the horn to send the game to overtime. 

A foul off the tip sent Indiana to the stripe and both fell to put Indiana on the board first in overtime. On the other end, Johnson was fouled attempting a three and he knocked down two of the three to tie it. Indiana got a bucket at the rim to go back ahead but Branham hit a runner off the glass to re-tie the game. After a Hoosier miss, the Buckeyes went ahead when Wheeler drilled a triple from the right corner. A pair of Indiana free throws cut the lead to one but as the shot clock was running low, Liddell hit a fader from the left baseline and Indiana called timeout with 1:41 left in overtime and Ohio State leading 72-69. A Hoosier miss and a Branham bucket in the middle of the lane put the Buckeyes up 5 with a minute left. Another Hoosier miss and offsetting technicals after Liddell pulled down a rebound and the Hoosier unnecessarily grabbed his nether region.  Ridiculously, offsetting technicals were called but Liddell buried one of two free throws. After an over the back call after an Indiana miss, Young split a pair of free throws with 34 seconds to go to put Ohio State up 7. Indiana forced up a three which missed and the Hoosiers quickly fouled Wheeler and he buried both to put the Buckeyes up 9. Two Kyle Young free throws ended the scoring and the Buckeyes escaped with the win. 

The Buckeyes certainly showed more effort in this game to get the big lead midway through the second half but the lack of consistent offense along with some questionable officiating allowed Indiana to claw back in front. Fortunately for Ohio State, they made plays when they needed them and were able to force overtime to regroup and take control. E.J. Liddell once again played an inordinate amount of minutes, 43 to be exact, and he looked fatigued at times coming off a physical game with Iowa just two days ago, but we are seeing the blossoming of a superstar in Malaki Branham, who took over on the offensive end at times, almost single handedly getting this game to overtime. Ohio State got very good minutes from Kyle Young off the bench, scoring 8 points and grabbing 6 big rebounds, several in critical moments and continue to get good minutes from Gene Brown, who is on the floor for his length and defense and any points he can contribute is just the icing on the cake and he got 10 big ones on this night. The Buckeyes will need to continue to play with that kind of effort and toughness as they continue this stretch of games in a short time frame. On a night where they gutted out a tough win while feeling the fatigue of a quick turnaround, the Buckeyes showed their character and mental makeup in what was an important win with a trip to Illinois on deck. With 5 games to play in the regular season, Ohio State will try to finish strong before they head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten tournament in a couple weeks. 

Ohio State will hit the road for two straight away from home to complete the road portion of the schedule, the first of which will be in Champagne, Illinois to take on the 16th ranked Illini on Thursday evening.  That game is scheduled to tip at 9 PM and airing on FS1.

-Jason Harris

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