2012 Ohio State Basketball
OSU Gets Revenge Thanks to Unlikely Source
On New Year's Eve, the Ohio State Buckeyes ran into a buzzsaw when they traveled to Bloomington and loss to the Indiana Hoosiers 74-71 in a hard-fought Big Ten battle.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and the Buckeyes had a score to settle.
The fifth ranked Buckeyes pounded the seventh ranked Hoosiers 80-63 in front of a capacity Value City Arena crowd thanks to an unlikely source.
Sophomore Lenzelle Smith Jr. has been the weakest offensive player in the Buckeyes starting lineup, and it seemed that Indiana head coach Tom Crean's game plan was to apply more defense pressure on the other Buckeyes.
Smith Jr. stepped up huge for the Buckeyes, more than doubling his career-high, pouring in a game-high 28 points.
"Throughout the game I just saw my man leave me every single time," said Smith, who came in averaging a mere 5.2 points a game. "The first game (against Indiana), I was complaining about that to my team. This game we capitalized that and we were able to get some easy buckets."
Smith, who came in scoring about five points per game, shattered nearly every offensive high-water mark he had ever had in a game. He hit 10-of-12 shots from the field including 4-of-5 from beyond-the-arc. He also had seven rebounds, an assist and a steal. Not too shabby for a kid who missed practice on Thursday and Friday due to a bad case of strep throat.
"That's kind of like a coach's dream when you see it going in there," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said of Smith's shooting. "Because you're making them pay for the adjustment that they're making. He did a tremendous job with that."
It was clear early that Indiana was not going to allow All-American forward Jared Sullinger to dominate the game in the paint. Following the game, Crean wasn't about to go back on his game plan.
"Lenzelle is averaging four shots a game. Look it up," said Crean. "He really played well. He played well at our place, but they've got a lot of good players. That's why they're as good as they are."
On top of Smith's performance, Sullinger added 16 points while William Buford and Deshaun Thomas contributed 12 and 11 points respectively for the Buckeyes (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten), who bounced back from a loss at Illinois on Tuesday night.
Indiana was led by Cody Zeller had bucketed 16 points. Christian Watford added 13 while Jordan Hulls tallied 11 points for the Hoosiers (15-3, 3-3), who were also coming off a loss, falling at home to unranked Minnesota on Wednesday night.
The game was the first Indiana has played against another top 10 team since 2002 and the Hoosiers' first visit to an opponent also ranked in single digits since 1992.
Just how big was this game? With the victory, the Buckeyes jumped into second place in the conference while the Hoosiers dropped to fourth place.
The Buckeyes will have a great opportunity to get a winning streak going as they travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers this coming Saturday. Ohio State crushed Nebraska by 31 points in their first meeting of the season back on January 3rd.
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