BLOOMINGTON – No Noah Vonleh?
Indiana utilized inside depth it didn't seem to have, got another clutch scoring performance by Will Sheehey and upset No. 22 Ohio State 72-64 on Sunday.
The Hoosiers' second straight win over a ranked team – they beat No. 20 Iowa on Thursday – boosted their record to 17-12 overall, 7-9 in the Big Ten. They went 3-1 in their four-games-in-eight-days stretch to keep NCAA tourney hopes alive.
Sheehey added 19 points and five rebounds to the 30 and six he had against Iowa. Yogi Ferrell had 20 points.
Forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea, bearing the biggest burden with Vonleh sidelined by an inflamed left foot, totaled eight points and five rebounds. It was his first significant contribution since coming back from a two-game suspension for last month's arrest for OWI.
"He did a good job of being in movement," coach Tom Crean said. "He got better as the game went on.He gained confidence as the game went on.
"It was great to see his teammates were so happy for him. The fact he was able to play even after he struggled really epitomized the game."
IU has won three of its last four games in a late run to earn a NCAA tourney at-large bid.
"We're just clicking on all cylinders right now," Sheehey said. "Defensively we're playing with a lot more intensity. Our guys are finally starting to feel a groove."
As for how long Vonleh will be out, Crean said it was “day to day.”
“It’s an inflammation that’s been bothering him for some time. There is no stress fracture. He’s just not comfortable with it. He continues to rehab and we’ll see how it goes.”
Ohio State (22-8, 9-8) was led by LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith. Both had 19 points. The Buckeyes scored 48 points in the paint and basically nothing outside of it except for free throws. They were 0-for-11 from three-point range.
Sunday's ice-and-snow storm limited the crowd size at Assembly Hall, but not the energy that has enabled IU to upset four ranked teams there this season.
The 6-10 Vonleh had started every game. He averaged 11.6 points and a Big Ten-leading 9.1 rebounds. He also leads the Big Ten with 10 double doubles.
Vonleh played 26 minutes last Thursday against Iowa, totaling four points and five rebounds. The first indication some was wrong was when he didn't come out during early warmups about an hour before tipoff.
Without Vonleh the Hoosiers lacked much of an inside presence. They had the 6-9 Perea, 6-8 Jeremy Hollowell, 6-9 Jeff Howard and 6-7 Devin Davis.
They combined for 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. IU won the rebound battle 34-32.
"We didn't know (Vonleh) wasn't going to play until right before the game," coach Thad Matta said. "We had to get into the lane because we couldn't make a shot. We had some good looks, they just didn't go down."
Ohio State's Big Ten-best defense crushed the life out of IU's early dribble-drive attack. After 12 minutes IU was 4-for-16 from the field, had seven turnovers and trailed 20-12.
Then the Hoosiers surged. Their 16-0 run – fueled by fierce defense and 5-for-6 shooting – led to a 33-25 halftime lead.
Oho State jumped ahead 9-2 and then 20-12 before the Hoosiers rallied for an eight-point halftime lead.
The Buckeyes edged to within two points, then one. Evan Gordon and Sheehey followed with consecutive three-pointers to get the lead back to seven with eight minutes left.
IU's mounting turnovers were negated by poor Ohio State shooting down the stretch. The lead stayed at seven as the clock ticked under four minutes. The Hoosiers pushed ahead 65-55 with less than two minutes left.
It was more than enough against a Buckeye team that has lost two straight.
"We were rolling until Thursday night," Matta said. "We're really lacking in confidence and toughness in terms of playing through situations. Those are things we have to get corrected."