by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
A 14-point first half was too hard to ever overcome for No. 7 Indiana as it fell to No. 5 Ohio State, 80-63, on Sunday.
The Buckeyes and Hoosiers were both coming off losses earlier in the week, falling to Illinois and Minnesota, respectively. The Buckeyes, though, were able to rebound quicker, sparked by a 35-14 halftime lead.
While Jared Sullinger put in a workmanlike 16 points and 9 rebounds, it was sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. that stole the show. Smith Jr., who had scored in double figures just once in his two seasons, exploded for a career-high 28 points. He was on fire all night, draining 10-of-12 shots, including 4-for-5 from deep.
Once the defense keyed on Smith Jr., Ohio State’s big man went to work.
From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
“The second half, they stopped leaving Lenzelle,” Sullinger said. “The first couple times I kicked it to Lenzelle, they were still there, so Lenzelle threw it back to me. It’s a two-way street and it worked perfectly in the game plan.”
With a top-10 ranking, Indiana had expectations for the first time all season, but back-to-back losses should have them tumbling back down the polls. With Big Ten bottom dwellers Nebraska and Penn State next on the schedule, they should have a chance to get back on track.