COLUMBUS, Ohio – Victor Oladipo sailed under the basket, caught a lob pass and sank a reverse layup with 1:58 to play in the first half.
Just a little more than 30 seconds later, the Indiana guard grabbed a loose ball at the top of the lane and drove in for a dunk against Ohio State.
Those were just four of Oladipo’s career-high 26 points in No. 1 Indiana’s 81-68 victory at No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.
Mixing Oladipo’s production with Cody Zeller’s 24 points and Christian Watford’s 20 was the perfect blend for an Indiana team trying to put Thursday’s loss at the buzzer to Illinois behind it.
It took everybody to win, Oladipo said. Everybody played at a high level, and everybody came with a great focus. We went out there and played for each other, and it was one of the best games we’ve played all year.
The Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) defeated a top-10 team on the road for the first time since beating then-No. 10 Notre Dame in 2000. It was also IU’s first road win over a top-25 team since it beat then-No. 13 Iowa in 2002.
Indiana also kept pace with No. 12 Michigan State (20-4, 9-2) for first place in the Big Ten. It was also the Hoosiers’ first win at Ohio State (17-6, 7-4) since 2008 and snapped a four-game losing streak in Columbus.
It’s a big deal, IU coach Tom Crean said of the win. It’s not just beating a ranked team, Ohio State is really, really good. We’ve had, at times, not had the firepower to be able to compete with them. And last year (in an 80-63 loss), as we were getting better, we didn’t have the toughness to compete with them.
On Sunday, Indiana didn’t show the fragilities it did when the Hoosiers let a double-digit lead slip away in Thursday night’s 74-72 loss to Illinois.
The Hoosiers built their largest lead, 62-46, with 9:30 to play.
Ohio State got within eight points just two more times from there, and the Hoosiers brought the lead back up to double digits within seconds of it slipping to eight each time.
The last five minutes have been important for us, putting teams away, playing to win, not just playing for the time to run out, Zeller said. We made that adjustment pretty well today.
Indiana was also able to adjust when Ohio State started punching back in the opening half.
The Hoosiers jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first five minutes, but the Buckeyes regrouped and the lead changed hands four times until IU gained a 20-19 edge with 7:18 to play in the half on a Watford layup.
Indiana didn’t give up the lead the rest of the half as Oladipo, Watford and Zeller combined for 36 first-half points to give Hoosiers a 42-33 halftime lead.
With Jordan (Hulls) and (Kevin) Yogi’ (Ferrell) passing the basketball, it’s pretty easy, Watford said of the Hoosiers’ big three carrying the scoring load. When we are doing that, we are pretty good.
Ohio State cut its deficit to 43-39 with 16:28 to play, but Indiana answered with an Oladipo jumper then a three-pointer to push the lead back to nine, 48-39, with 15:32 to play. From there, the Hoosiers countered each basket or defensive stop by the Buckeyes, deflating the capacity crowd of 18,809 in Value City Arena.
When you go on the road, you got to do the best job you can possibly do to not play differently than when you are at home, Crean said, our guys did that today.
Ohio State junior Deshaun Thomas, a former Bishop Luers standout, scored a team-high 26 points, and Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross added 16 and 11.
(The Hoosiers) had their composure when we made our run, and they got some 50-50, loose balls, that we didn’t get to, Thomas said. And they came out with the win.