Ohio State seems to have played itself off the NCAA Tournament bubble, thanks to a 79-75 Big Ten Tournament win over Indiana Thursday. Behind big man Kaleb Wesson's return from suspension and the senior back-court of Keyshawn Woods and C.J. Jackson, the Buckeyes built up a 20 point lead with 7:30 to go. Indiana's furious rally, closing to within 2 in the final seconds, came up short and the Buckeyes (19-13) secured a win that most "bracketologists" believe clinched a tournament berth.
Wesson was a key part of the victory with 17 points and a career best 13 rebounds, but Woods and Jackson were the biggest heroes, combining for 35 points and 9 assists.
It was an especially big game for Woods. The graduate transfer scored 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting, had 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. He also hit the single biggest shot of the game. When Indiana had cut it to 3 with under a minute to play, the Buckeyes went to Woods who hit a shot in the lane that kept the Hoosiers at arms length.
Jackson also made sure Indiana didn't come all the way back. In the final seconds, the Hoosiers Devonte Green, who was the biggest reason for the IU rally, nailed a 35-foot 3-pointer, his Big Ten Tournament record 8th 3-pointer of the game, to trim the lead to 77-75. Jackson was fouled with 3.2 seconds left and secured the win with a pair of free throws.
It was far from perfect, as Ohio State committed 16 turnovers and made a couple critical mistakes during Indiana's run, but for the most part it was a very good game for a Buckeye team that has frequently struggled to score this season. In the win Thursday however, Ohio State had 22 assists on 28 made baskets, they shot the ball fairly well (45%), made their free throws (15-18) and got contributions up and down the roster. In short, they looked like an NCAA tournament team.
While they seem to be off the bubble, the Buckeyes can eliminate all doubt if they pull off an upset Friday against Michigan State. The Big Ten Network has the game at 12:30.
Posted below are some of BTN's highlights and interviews from Thursday's win.