On Saturday night, the Indiana University basketball team tried to breathe life into their tournament hopes. In what has started to be a familiar story line, the Hoosiers zoomed to a big early lead which they squandered in the second half, falling behind before, this time, squeaking out a victory at the end of the game, 96-92. A plot that may be difficult to repeat during the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.
In four of their last five games, IU has held substantial leads, sometime late into the second half. Two of those games, Minnesota and Iowa, ended in defeat. The question still remains whether Indiana can play up to their potential for forty minutes.
On Saturday, Robert Johnson led the Hoosier with 26 points with James Blackmon Jr. chipping in 22 points and eight rebounds. Ohio State had four players scoring 18 or more points, with Jae’Sean Tate scoring 20.
The Hoosiers raced out to a 25-8 lead in the first five and an half minutes, hitting ten of their first eleven shots, including five of six three-point shots. The Indiana lead grew to as much as 18 points and the half ended with Indiana maintaining a fourteen point lead at 54-40. IU shot 65 percent for the half and was the highest scoring half of the year. They had four players in double figures while Ohio State was led by JuQuan Lyle coming off the bench to score 15.
However, the Indiana lead was reduce to three points in the first five minutes of the second half as the Hoosiers managed to score only three points. Shadows of past performances started looming over the team as Ohio State took the lead, 62-63, at the 11:38 mark when C. J. Jackson made a three-pointer. But Indiana responded with a 13-2 run and retook control down the stretch. The Hoosiers made nine of twelve free throws in the last minute for the victory.
IU ends the regular season with a 17-14 record. They meet Iowa on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.