BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Body fully extended, flat on his stomach, D.J. Carton’s didn’t stop sliding Saturday until his head reached the support underneath the basket.
Seconds earlier, the Ohio State freshman had nabbed the ball from Indiana’s Rob Phinisee and saw daylight, finally. Then as he accelerated upcourt, the ball flew out of his hands and sailed out of bounds as his momentum pulled him to the Assembly Hall court for a turnover on one of only two fast-break chances for the entire game.
So it went for the free-falling Buckeyes. Against an Indiana team whose toughness had been publicly challenged by coach Archie Miller one day prior, 11th-ranked Ohio State suffered its fourth straight loss and its fourth in Big Ten play with a 66-54 loss to the Hoosiers.
“I think it’s a work in progress right now,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “We definitely have some offensive issues that we’ve got to work out. Tough second half for us. We’ve got to find a way to figure some things out quickly.”
The usual culprits conspired to doom the Buckeyes (11-5, 1-4). For a fourth straight game, they were limited to fewer than 60 points, and for the third time in the past four games, they shot worse than 33% from the field (32.7%). They also committed 16 turnovers, seven of which came from Carton.
Still, they led midway through the second half when a Carton three-point basket made it a 45-43 lead with 10:24 to play. Ohio State then went scoreless for 3:37 and did not connect on another field goal until Kaleb Wesson was awarded two points on a goaltending call with 4:30 to play, a drought of 5:54.
Meanwhile, Indiana (13-3, 3-2) steadily pulled away, scoring on seven straight possessions to turn a 42-40 deficit into a 53-45 lead with 7:57 to play. The Buckeyes got no closer than seven points the rest of the way while shooting 21.4% during the second half.
“Credit to them,” Wesson said. “They’re a good team. They got disruptive in the second half, took us out of some of our stuff, and we turned the ball over.”
Junior forward Kyle Young returned to the starting lineup after missing two games while recovering from an appendectomy. He scored one point and had three rebounds in nearly 23 minutes of playing time. Holtmann described him as rusty.
“Kyle’s a big part of our team,” Andre Wesson said. “Just having that energy back and the little things that he does, it definitely helps our team.”
Holtmann was succinct about sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr., who was pulled early during both halves for missing defensive assignments. With offense at a premium, the team’s second-leading scorer and top three-point shooter played only 8:02 and did not attempt a shot.
He sat for the final 17:26 of the game for what Holtmann said was a “coach’s decision.”
Andre Wesson led the Buckeyes with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting and added seven rebounds. Kaleb Wesson had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.