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By Matt McCoy
To listen to Thad Matta's comments after the loss to Indiana click HERE:
Ohio State's strength is defense...Indiana's is offense. Sunday, it was the Hoosier 'O' that far outperformed the Buckeye 'D."
I.U. shot 53 percent from the floor, the best percentage versus the Buckeyes this year. They also scored 81 points--the most allowed by Ohio State this season and the showdown in the Schottenstein Center was all Hoosiers, 81-68.
"We didn't guard them at the level we needed to guard them," Coach Thad Matta said. "Give them credit. They answered everything in a timely fashion against us."
The guys with the answers were Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford who combined to outscore Ohio State's entire team by two points. Oladipo's 26 were his career high. Zeller had 24 and Watford, 20.
"You're not going to win too many games with three guys scoring over 20," Ohio State guard Aaron Craft said. "We just didn't play our type of defense today and they made shots."
There was a time when Ohio State could win a shootout. I think back to last year, when the Buckeyes had a poor defensive game agaisnt Purdue, but that Buckeye team had William Buford and Jared Sullinger and managed an 87-84 win. Buford and Sullinger combined for 47 points in that game and Deshaun Thomas and Craft also finished in double-figures.
This teams formula for success is defense first. For lack of a better way to put it, they have to ugly the game up and win with the score in the 50's or 60's, not in the 70's or 80's.
But a lot of what happened Sunday had to do with Indiana. Coming off a complete gag job when they lost last Thursday to Illinois, the Hoosiers were focused and sharp. When they play that way, they're extremely tough for anyone to beat.
As a result, the Buckeyes, who lost the heartbreaking overtime game at Michigan Tuesday, have to deal with their first two game losing streak in more than three years.
"This league is like....wow," Thad Matta said. "I've said this all along. This league is about getting knocked down and then getting back up and you've got to fight again."
Two more fights are coming up for the Buckeyes this week. They're home to Northwestern Thursday and then at Wisconsin Saturday. We'll talk about the week that was and the upcoming week on Bucksline Monday night from 7-8 p.m. You can join former Buckeye captain Tony White and me as we talk Buckeye hoops.
I did some serious debating this week about which team to vote number 1. In the end, despite the loss at Illinois, I went with Indiana, by a hair over Miami. The Hurricanes, right now, are hotter than any team in the country. They have a veteran team and they're not just winning, they're winning impressively but I went with I.U. because I just couldn't get past Miami's early season loss to Florida Gulf Coast. That's probably unfair because they're not the same team now, but I needed a tie-breaker and that was it.
I moved the Buckeyes down to 16th after the 0-2 week and moved Illinois in, after their wins over Indiana and at Minnesota. If you're an Akron fan, they're definitely on my radar, but are just barely out right now. Here's how I voted:
6) Michigan State
11) Kansas State
16) Ohio State
17) Oklahoma State
19) New Mexico
21) Notre Dame
22) Colorado State
If they Hoosiers are focused and sharp, they will be extremely difficult for anyone to beat. That's how they were in the Schottenstein Center.