After arguably the most thrilling Big Ten college hoops season in history, it didn't seem appropriate that No. 2 Indiana clinch the conference with a game still remaining.
Ohio State agreed.
The No. 14 Buckeyes went into Assembly Hall on Tuesday night, and behind an all-around team effort led by Aaron Craft, knocked off the Hoosiers, 67-58, and thoroughly sent chaos throughout the league.
Indiana is now just one game ahead of Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan in the loss column with a trip to Ann Arbor remaining.
It's entirely possible we could soon be looking at a four-way tie atop the Big Ten.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Buckeyes went on a 7-0 run in the final five minutes to take a 28-25 lead at the break. They were able to counteract the raucous Assembly Hall crowd because of two things.
The first is what we've come to expect from Thad Matta's squad: hard-nosed, almost magnetic-like defense. The Buckeyes, who rank 27th in America in defensive efficiency, held Indiana to 33.3 percent shooting and a season-low 25 first-half points.
The second isn't nearly as common. All season, the Buckyes have been desperate for a second scorer behind All-American candidate Deshaun Thomas, and Sam Thompson's nine first-half points were a welcomed surprise.
Behind Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford, though, the Hoosiers came out of the locker room white-hot and retook the lead, 39-34.
Nevertheless, the Buckeyes held tough on the road, and the rest of the game was typical back-and-forth, Big Ten action.
Oladipo did this:
But Aaron Craft made veteran plays, Shannon Scott and Evan Ravenel made crucial contributions off the bench and the Buckeyes pulled away in the final seven minutes fueled by an 11-2 run.
Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross has been unable to contribute with consistency because of his defensive struggles, but after a few quick buckets in the first half, ESPN's Eamonn Brennan noted his immense potential:
Eamonn Brennan @eamonnbrennan
I feel like LaQuinton Ross could be a top-five pick next summer.3/6/2013, 2:49:47 AM
That might be a stretch considering the anticipated 2014 class, but there's no question Ross has all kinds of uncovered talent.
This doesn't have much to do with the actual game, but it's important that we get the answer to this question from College Basketball Talk:
Twitter poll: Who has a better "beard/weird hair" combo going -- Derek Elston or Christian Watford?3/6/2013, 2:52:22 AM
Oladipo, meanwhile, was doing typical Oladipo things once he got out of foul trouble (via College Basketball Talk's Daniel Martin):
Daniel Martin @DMartinCSN
Victor Oladipo, man. I should stop being impressed that he'll block a shot, run the floor, give-and-go, & slam it for 2. I still am, though.3/6/2013, 3:25:25 AM
Not long after, the high-flying wing put up a block that nearly broke the Twittersphere. Instead of one tweet, here's a screenshot of the carnage:
Of course, there was a pretty good defender on the other side of the court, too, and he had himself a complete game (via CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello) to help put the Hoosiers away:
Jeff Borzello @jeffborzello
Aaron Craft: 13 points, four boards, four assists, four steals. Yep, that'll work.3/6/2013, 3:46:13 AM
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