BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Assembly Hall has not historically been kind to Ohio State. C.J. Jackson is finding ways to change that.
In the regular-season finale last year, Jackson hit a deep, game-winning three-pointer with 1.7 seconds left as the Buckeyes spoiled senior night for the Hoosiers with an 80-78 win in double overtime.
On Sunday, in a battle between two teams desperately trying to stay on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, he basically did it again. Having led for the entire game, Ohio State fell behind with 1:46 to play when Indiana’s Devonte Green drilled a deep three-pointer over Keyshawn Woods for a 52-49 lead.
It wouldn’t last. From almost the same spot on the court from a year ago, and with the shot clock nearing zero, Jackson half-shot, half-heaved a three-pointer that swished through the net to tie it. On the Buckeyes' next possession, it was his feed to Andre Wesson out of a timeout that resulted in the winning dunk.
Standing against a crimson-and-cream-colored hallway outside the visitors’ locker room afterward, Jackson couldn’t explain his personal success against the Hoosiers.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “Just an unbelievable environment. You dream of playing in places like this. My coaches believe in me and my teammates believe in me so I want to give my team what they need. It just happened to go the right way the last couple of times here.”
On the assist to Wesson, coach Chris Holtmann graded Ohio State’s offensive execution as a “10 out of 10.” On Jackson’s shot … not so much.
“Now, that was not drawn up,” he said. “It was busted. We didn’t have much going that possession, and he’s got an incredible knack for that. I was relieved, because I thought the game was potentially a tipping point there.”
Thanks to Jackson’s clutch plays, the Buckeyes have now won consecutive games at Assembly Hall for only the third time in the building’s 48-year history. In those games, Jackson is 9 for 23 (39.1 percent) from the field, 5 for 10 (50.0 percent) from three and has six assists and four turnovers while averaging 11.5 points per game.
He’s also 2 for 2 with the game on the line.
“C.J., how many times has he done that in his career?” Holtmann said. “He really has shown the ability to make those shots and those plays.”