Basketball

Buckeyes Overwhelmed In Second Half, Fall 67-51 At Indiana

Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was dominating in the Hoosiers’ 67-51 win over Ohio State (9-3, 3-1) Thursday night. Jackson-Davis scored a game-high 27 points for Indiana (11-3, 2-2), with additional game-highs of 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Jackson-Davis controlled the paint from the outset, playing a large part offensively and defensively in the Hoosiers outscoring OSU 38-10 in the paint.

The Buckeyes were led in scoring by freshman Malaki Branham for the second-straight game. Branham dropped in 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting. EJ Liddell had his second rough game in a row, which isn’t completely unexpected given Ohio State’s two-week layoff due to COVID. Liddell scored 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.

Branham got things going for the Buckeyes, scoring six of their first eight points to give OSU an 8-5 lead early in the first half. Scoring was hard to come by for both teams, however, and after 20 minutes of play, the Hoosiers held a slim 33-30 lead thanks to 16 points by Jackson-Davis.

Jackson-Davis added the first bucket of the second half before Liddell and Branham hit consecutive threes to give the Buckeyes a 36-35 lead. Indiana quickly responded with a 7-0 run thanks to a handful of OSU turnovers. Branham cut a five-point lead to four points following a made jumper and a pair of free throws with 10:01 to play.

A Kyle Young missed three led to a run-out and layup by Jackson-Davis, who was fouled on the play. He made the basket and free throw to give Indiana a 52-45 lead, which was their largest of the game to that point. Meechie Johnson then dropped a long three from the wing to make it 52-48 with 6:41 remaining. Indiana responded with an old-fashioned three-point play from Race Thompson less than 30 seconds later.

The lead only grew from there as the Buckeyes had no real answer for Indiana’s size, physicality, and suffocating defense.

Indiana held Ohio State to .308 shooting (16-52) and outrebounded the Buckeyes 41-33. The Hoosiers only shot .410 from the field and just 2-of-15 from three-point territory.

Size Too Much To Handle

Trayce Jackson-Davis dominated every aspect of this game. EJ Liddell, Kyle Young, Zed Key, and Joey Brunk combined for just 22 points on 6-of-20 shooting in 72 minutes of play. Jackson-Davis obviously wasn’t guarding all four Buckeyes, but when they foolishly took it into the paint, he had something to say about it. That went for the Ohio State guards as well. Jackson-Davis blocked five shots but he impacted many more just by his sheer presence over his 34 minutes on the court. Key was rendered powerless due to Indiana’s length and athleticism. Liddell was visibly frustrated at just about everything on the night.

Liddell Fighting For Footing

The Buckeyes are still working their way back from the long COVID vacation. This is especially true for EJ Liddell. Prior to the break he was one of the best players in the nation. In the two games since the layoff, Liddell has made just 5-of-26 field goal attempts and scored a total of 21 points. He is still rebounding and blocking shots, but it’s clear he’s struggling a bit. Indiana’s size was an issue on Thursday night, but he’s had much better games against size than this one. The Buckeyes obviously need him back to full strength and full feel soon. He forced way too many bad shots and many of them never got high enough above the rim to really have a shot to go in.

Branham Back At It

One game after freshman guard Malaki Branham scored a game-high and career-high 35 points, he was back at it early on Thursday night, scoring 6 of OSU’s first 8 points. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, he was then stuck on that six points for quite a while. He got good looks throughout the game thanks to his ability to pull up and shoot from the mid-range. Sometimes those shots fall, other times they don’t. And it can happen from one game to the next, just as we saw in this one.

The Box Score

[Malaki Branham header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]