BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — No. 14 Ohio State crashed No. 2 Indiana’s big party plans Tuesday night.
Instead, it wound up celebrating its own resurgence.
The Buckeyes made things tough on Cody Zeller inside, took Indiana’s shooters out of their comfort zone and relied on Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft to deliver the late knockout punch in a 67-58 victory. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that — even if the Buckeyes don’t want to make a big deal out of it.
“Where we were a couple weeks ago and where we are now, that just makes us appreciate this a little more,” Craft said.
This wasn’t just a victory for Ohio State (22-7, 12-5 Big Ten). It kept at least half of the league’s teams in a title chase that will now go down to the final day of the regular season.
Sunday’s losses by Wisconsin and Michigan State gave Indiana (25-5, 13-4) a share of its first conference championship in 11 years.
A win over the Buckeyes would have given the Hoosiers their first outright Big Ten crown since 1993. They will get another chance Sunday at No. 7 Michigan.
But Thomas and Craft weren’t going to let the celebration take place at their expense.
Thomas finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Craft added 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals. And they combined for the first nine points in the decisive 11-2 run that forced Indiana to spend the rest of the game playing catch-up.
The win puts Ohio State in the unenviable position of rooting for Michigan, that dreaded team from up north, to help create a logjam atop America’s toughest conference this season.
“We have to root for them (the Wolverines). They rooted for us last year and I’m sure they rooted for us this year,” Thomas said.
around the nation
• BLUE DEVIL BASH — At Durham, N.C., Seth Curry scored 20 points in his final home game, and No. 3 Duke (26-4, 13-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) pulled away for an 85-57 victory over Virginia Tech (13-17, 4-13).
• K-STATE KEEPS PACE — At Manhattan, Kan., Angel Rodriguez had 21 points and 10 assists to lead No. 9 Kansas State (25-5, 14-3 Big 12) to a 79-68 win over Texas Christian (10-20, 1-16). The Wildcats stayed tied with No. 4 Kansas for first place in the Big 12 with one regular-season game to play.