COLUMBUS — No. 4 Ohio State led Indiana by as many as 22 points in the second half as the Buckeyes breezed to a 78-59 win over the outgunned Hoosiers on Saturday afternoon in Value City Arena.
E.J. Liddell had a team-high 19 points and Justice Sueing recorded his fourth double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes, who improved to 17-4 on the season and 11-4 in the Big Ten with the win.
Indiana sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who came into the contest averaging 19 points per game, led all scorers with 23 points and added nine rebounds. Pickerington native Jerome Hunter was the only other Hoosier to reach double figures, scoring 10 points on 3-7 shooting.
Despite starting quickly, Indiana was a victim of several large runs by Ohio State that had the Hoosiers playing catch up the entire game.
A pair of three-pointers from Armaan Franklin and Aljami Durham gave Indiana an early 6-2 lead, but a pair of buckets from Liddell and a jumper from Duane Washington Jr. had Ohio State out in front for the first time at 9-6.
And the Buckeyes were just getting started.
After blocking a shot on the defensive end, Liddell was found wide open by C.J. Walker at the other end, knocking down his second three-pointer of the half and giving Ohio State a 17-6 lead. Following the make, Indiana head coach Archie Miller was forced to call a timeout to stem the 15-0 Buckeye run, but the pause did little to slow the Buckeyes down.
Out of the timeout, baskets by Zed Key and Sueing pushed the run to 19-0 before an Indiana free throw finally ended the onslaught.
Seth Towns’ jumper and a layup from Sueing gave Ohio State their largest lead of the first half at 27-11, and it appeared as if the Buckeyes were set to cruise burry a hapless Indiana team early. The Hoosiers would finally get off the mat, however, drawing within five points on a dunk from Trayce Jackson-Davis as the game neared the two-minute mark.
The dunk capped an 11-0 run for Indiana as Ohio State’s offense ran dry, failing to score over a three-minute stretch that allowed the Hoosiers to creep back into the game.
A strong close to the first half allowed Ohio State to recapture some of their momentum heading into the locker room. A pair of free throws by Walker, followed by a steal and a transition basket by Liddell, pushed the Buckeyes’ lead back to double digits at 38-28 as the horn sounded on the opening 20 minutes.
Liddell led the way with 14 points and three rebounds in the first half, and Washington Jr. added 10 points on 3-4 shooting. Defensively, Ohio State held Indiana to just 36% shooting in the opening period while also forcing eight turnovers.
Sueing scored the first points out of the break, increasing Ohio State’s lead to 12 points a minute into the final period, but Indiana immediately responded with a 6-0 run to get within six points of the Buckeyes early in the second half. Jackson-Davis’ dunk a few possessions later brought the Hoosiers to within five, but they would get no closer as another large Ohio State run finally put the game away.
Walker’s three-pointer and fastbreak layup were part of a 9-0 response by Ohio State that pushed their lead to 54-40 as the game approached the halfway mark of the second half. The lead only continued to grow for the Buckeyes over the next few minutes as the margin ballooned to 21 after a pair of free throws from Justin Ahrens.
With the game well in hand, head coach Chris Holtmann substituted freely over the final minutes as the Buckeyes put the finishing touches on a dominant performance.
Ohio State’s winning steak now stands at six games, and the Buckeyes have won nine of their last 10 as they head the final stretch of the regular season. The Buckeyes return to the floor on Thursday when they travel to Penn State looking for the season sweep of the Nittany Lions. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.