The Buckeyes didn’t care. They were content shooting jump shots Friday night.
William Buford scored 24 points, and No. 2 Ohio State made 13 of 19 3-pointers in an 85-67 victory—a shooting performance so incredible it even surprised Buford.
“I didn’t know we shot that good. That’s pretty good,” the junior said. “When they were in a zone, we was rotating the ball, and then they couldn’t get to the shooters and we was just knocking them down.”
Did they ever.
The Buckeyes shot 60.5 percent from the field and 68.4 percent from 3-point range despite missing every shot they took over the final 8:06. They tied the Assembly Hall record for most 3s by a visiting team, matching the 13 Northwestern hit last season. Plus, they accomplished something no other Buckeyes team had—winning three straight in the Hoosiers’ current home arena.
Yes, it was a momentous night for the Buckeyes (14-0, 1-0 Big Ten).
They have won three straight in Bloomington for the first time since 1968-70, before Indiana moved to Assembly Hall. Ohio State has won eight straight road games, its longest such streak since winning nine in a row from 1970-72, and maintained its status as one of the nation’s few remaining unbeaten teams.
“That’s the way basketball is supposed to be played. They beat you on the pass more than they beat you on anything else,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “They’re such a dominant team, and they’re so good at so many positions that you can’t let guys do things that they don’t normally do and we let Buford get hot early and it killed us.”
Crean tried everything to stop the Buckeyes. With no good match up against freshman forward Jared Sullinger, Crean decided to start the game in a zone.
The Buckeyes played a nearly perfect half—making 15 of 21 from the field, 7 of 10 from 3-point range and 9 of 11 from the free throw line. And Sullinger still managed to get 11 points and four rebounds in the first 20 minutes. He finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.
“Jared did not get a lot of ball touches to start the game,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “I thought our guys did a great job of remaining patient and getting the ball into the post. We know Jared will throw the ball outside a lot and our guys were hitting from outside.”
Indiana (9-6, 0-2) couldn’t keep up with the passes or the baskets.
Christian Watford led the Hoosiers with 17 points, scoring 12 in the second half. Freshman Victor Oladipo had 14 points and six rebounds in his second career start, and Jordan Hulls finished with 12 points and three assists.
But against the hot-shooting Buckeyes, the Hoosiers didn’t have an answer.
Buford and Jon Diebler knocked down four 3-pointers in the first 6 minutes, and David Lighty made two free throws to give Ohio State an early 22-8 lead. Diebler finished with 15 points, all on 3-pointers.
Things only got worse for Indiana.
Forward Tom Pritchard was called for his fourth foul with 18:01 left in the game, and his replacement, Derek Elston, picked up his fifth foul with 17:17 to go, putting the already short-handed Hoosiers in a real predicament.
Ohio State took advantage, extending a 46-33 halftime lead to 50-35 on Buford’s fourth 3 of the game.
Watford’s 3 at the shot-clock buzzer with 12:55 left got the Hoosiers within 60-48, but the Buckeyes put it away with a 9-2 run that extended the lead to 69-50.
Even an 8-minute stretch without a basket couldn’t derail the Buckeyes this time.
“When Sully’s in the game, he’s such a factor and they concentrate on him, and we just opened it up,” Buford said. “Then he did what he does down low and it just opened up the game for us.”