No. 11 Ohio State will look to break out of an offensive funk and snap a three-game losing streak when it plays Saturday at Indiana.
The Buckeyes (11-4, 1-3 Big Ten) have scored fewer than 60 points in three straight games, averaging 57 points per game during that stretch. Ohio State was held to 31.3 percent from the floor and 18.5 percent (5 for 27) from 3-point range in its 67-55 loss at No. 12 Maryland on Tuesday.
“We had some decent looks by our guys,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said in his postgame radio interview. “I thought we had some clean threes that we’ll make. We just did not make them.”
Junior center Kaleb Wesson, who leads Ohio State in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg), dealt with foul trouble throughout the Maryland loss. Wesson finished the game with 15 points and four turnovers. Freshman guard D.J. Carton also scored 14 points for Ohio State in his first career start.
“He’s going to have games like this, and he’s going to have games where he’ll struggle,” Holtmann said of Carton. “I think that’s part of it. It’s our job to sort of simplify his job and what we’re asking him to do. But I thought he did some really good things.”
Indiana is coming off a 66-62 home win over Northwestern on Wednesday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers (12-3, 2-2) improved to 10-1 at home this season and snapped a two-game losing streak. Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (15.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg), who is leading IU in scoring and rebounding, scored a team-high 21 points in the win.
Indiana led by 10 points in the first half, but trailed by 10 points in the second half before rallying to make big shots and big plays down the stretch.
“We were definitely lacking some energy,” Indiana junior forward Justin Smith said. “Why, I couldn’t tell you. I just think it’s kind of, we need to be more engaged going into it. I think we kind of got a little comfortable, especially with the lead early on. And then they kind of hit us back and we didn’t respond until, like, I think, it was like 10 seconds left in the second half.”
Indiana has maintained its strength in the frontcourt with Smith, Trayce Jackson-Davis and junior Joey Brunk, who has posted double figures in rebounding in each of his last four games, averaging 11.8 rebounds per game during that stretch.
Indiana coach Archie Miller, however, is looking for more from his backcourt and his bench. Miller has played a rotation up to 11 players, but the Hoosiers’ bench was outscored 14-5 in the Northwestern win.
“Strength in numbers is only going so far right now,” Miller said. “The number has to shrink, maybe, in my opinion for some guys to get a jolt.”
Indiana is 1-1 against ranked teams this season, with an 80-64 win over then No. 17 Florida State on Dec. 3 and a 75-59 loss to Maryland on Jan. 4.
–Field Level Media