The Buckeyes learned early in the season how to play without Evan Turner and for most of the first half of the game against Indiana they had to with Ohio State's best player picking up two fouls in the first 2 and a half minutes.
But a 12-0 run at the end of the first half turned what had started to shape up as a tight game into more of a walkover as William Buford picked up the slack with 21 points and seven rebounds. Ohio State (19-6, 9-3) moves into a first place tie for the Big Ten lead with a 69-52 win over Indiana (9-14, 3-8) in Bloomington.
Wednesday night's win marks the first time the Buckeyes have won four in a row against the Hoosiers since the 1967-1969 season. Plenty of that can be attributed to just how well the Buckeyes have been playing as of late but the other half of that equation is just how far the Hoosiers have fallen.
Turner was not the only player to get into foul trouble early as Jeremiah Rivers picked up his second foul only 88 seconds into the game. But while Turner sat on the bench for most of the first half Rivers went out and made it through the half without picking up a third foul.
"I thought they did a great job and with Evan going down with 17 minutes to go in the first half I was actually going to put him back in," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said.
Turner was held to two points and two rebounds in the first half but managed to break into double figures with scoring mostly from the free throw line with the final line of 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists. The big stories however on offense had to be Buford's picking up of the slack and the play of Kyle Madsen who set a career high with 11 points off of the bench.
"I love Kyle and he is a graduate of The Ohio State University and he has a very high basketball IQ and does exactly what we ask him to do and tonight he was banging shots." Matta said.
During the last several games the Buckeyes have been criticized for playing six players deep but that wasn't the case on Wednesday where the Bucks were forced to go much deeper into the bench with players like Jeremie Simmons and P.J. Hill seeing significant minutes. The Buckeyes had eight players score in the game and the bench contributed for 15 points.
"They work hard in practice and we go at it every day in practice," Buford said. "They knock down those shots almost every day and we had confidence in them today."
Another key factor for the Buckeyes was the play of Dallas Lauderdale who had a career high tying 14 points, career high eight rebounds and seven blocks. But Lauderdale was responsible for so much more altering several other shots and keeping the Hoosiers out of the paint for the most part on the night.
Indiana had three players in double figures with Christian Watford leading the way with 15 points and seven rebounds. Rivers was never really a factor with four points and Verdell Jones III was relatively held in check with 11 points.
By virtue of losses by the Spartans and the Illini the Buckeyes have been able to overcome losing three of their first four in the league and now sit atop the top of the standings all at 9-3 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes still have games against Michigan State and Purdue and a pair against Illinois so the Big Ten race still has a long ways to go before anything will be decided going into the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis (Ind.).
"We feel that we can do well against just about anyone," Buford said. "We are going to keep playing hard and win our next games in the conference."
One thing that looks pretty certain however is that Matta will keep his streak of 20-win seasons alive with the Buckeyes only needing one more win to get to 20.