BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — With both Ohio State and Indiana searching for a win to help their NCAA Tournament bids, the game came down to the final possession.
It ended up being junior forward Andre Wesson that found the answer the Buckeyes needed, hitting on a contested dunk with 20 seconds to play to give Ohio State the 54-52 lead, and the 55-52 win.
Wesson finished with a team-high 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
“It’s fun,” Wesson said. “I mean that’s something you dream of.”
The Buckeyes trailed for less than a minute overall, but found a way to outlast a final barrage from the Hoosiers.
Ohio State held on for a three-point win, maintaining control after blowing a nine-point lead on back-to-back-to-back 3 pointers to allow the Hoosiers tie the game with less than five minutes to go.
Ohio State did not trail in the game until Indiana junior guard Devonte Green hit a 3 with 1:46 to play to give the Hoosiers a 52-49 lead.
But senior guard C.J. Jackson came up big late for the Buckeyes, hitting a game-tying shot from deep with 1:11 to play.
The big shot was Jackson’s second in his past two games in Bloomington. On Feb. 23, the senior guard hit the game-winning 3 for Ohio State with 1.7 seconds to go in double-overtime for the 80-78 victory.
“My teammates believe in me, coaches believe in me, so I just want to give my team what we needed at given times,” Jackson said. “[It] just happened to go the right way the past couple times here.”
For Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann, the shot, though not drawn up how he wanted, just shows what Jackson has been able to do as a scorer down the stretch.
“They threw in a deep one late in the clock, and honestly ours was a bit of a prayer, but C.J., how many times has he done that in his career, right?,” Holtmann said. “That might have been, in some ways, the second-biggest or the biggest play of the game.”
In a game that featured four air balls between the teams, two Ohio State runs to start each half made the difference.
Ohio State started the game on an 11-2 run in the first 4:38 of the game, then scored 12 points in the final 15:22 of the half.
The second half started in a similar fashion, with the Buckeyes going on an 11-4 run to start the final frame, giving Ohio State a 34-25 lead with 15:17 to play.
The first half was a defensive battle, with neither team shooting above 40 percent through the first 20 minutes.
Ohio State took a 23-21 lead into half behind a 20-12 rebounding advantage, five of which came from Bloomington, Indiana native, sophomore guard Musa Jallow.
Jallow finished with six boards, but was held scoreless on 0-of-2 shooting.
Holtmann said Jallow’s defensive performance was one of the major reasons for Ohio State’s victory.
“I thought it was one of the major keys to the game, was his defense and his rebounding,” Holtmann said. “I thought we don’t win the game without that.”
Indiana, the No. 253 team in the NCAA in 3-point percentage, struggled even more than usual against Ohio State, connecting on 6 of its 20 attempts, and only 2 of its first 14.
The Buckeyes outshot and outrebounded the Hoosiers for the entirety of the first half, but were again haunted by turnovers.
Indiana scored 11 of its first 17 points to start the game through Ohio State turnovers, with the Buckeyes recording nine turnovers in the first half.
Freshman guard Langford made the highlight play of the opening half, stealing a errant pass from Ohio State sophomore forward Kyle Young and dunking it with one hand.
Langford finished with a team-high 15 points, and hit two of the three 3 pointers during Indiana’s 9-0 run to tie the game.
The victory against the Hoosiers pushes Ohio State to a 6-6 record in the Big Ten, and makes the Buckeyes winners of four of their past five.
“It feels good, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Jackson said. “We’re gonna celebrate this one for now.”
Ohio State will return home to take on Illinois on Thursday at 7.