Early start, late run pushes Indiana past Ohio State
COLUMBUS (AP) -- The first half of Saturday's regular season finale had all the makings of a satisfying blowout for Indiana. But Ohio State fought back to make it a nail-biter, forcing the Hoosiers to hold on down the stretch to get a 96-92 win.
Robert Johnson scored 26 points and James Blackmon Jr. added 22 points and eight rebounds as Indiana used a hot start to build a big lead and then held off Ohio State's furious second-half rally.
"We knew it would be a team that wasn't going to go away," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "We knew it would be a team that's got a lot of offensive firepower. They're another team that, like us, they're capable of winning against anybody. But at the end of the day it comes down to your decision-making and things of that nature. It's a great win for us."
Down by 14 at the half, Ohio State came out with a 13-3 run to start the second half and tied the game at 64 on a Jae'Sean Tate layup with just under nine minutes left.
But Indiana (17-14, 7-11 Big Ten) fired back a 10-1 run and was up by seven when Ohio State called a timeout with 6:07 left.
The Buckeyes chipped away in the final minute, with a C.J. Jackson 3-pointer closing it to two points, 94-92, with three seconds remaining. But Marc Loving had to foul Blackmon, and he hit a pair of foul shots to put it out of reach.
"They're a good team, so we knew they were going to fight back at halftime," Blackmon said. "So we just had to withstand that and come together and finish it out."
Josh Newkirk finished with 18 points and Thomas Bryant added 16 for the Hoosiers, who ended a disappointing regular season on a high note heading into next week's Big Ten Tournament.
Tate led Ohio State with 20 points, and Trevor Thompson had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Ohio State (17-14, 7-11) lost for the first time in three games and likely will play on the tournament's opening day on Wednesday.
Ohio State missed its first four shots of the game as Indiana drained three straight 3-pointers and quickly went up 11-0. After that, Ohio State couldn't get to within less than eight points in the half.
The Hoosiers shot 65 percent in the first frame, led by as many as 18 and went up 54-40 at the intermission. Johnson had 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the floor, and Bryant, Newkirk and Blackmon also were in double figures at the half.
"They were making shots an alarming rate," said Ohio State coach Thad Matta, who has suffered through the worst year of his 17-year career as a head coach.