Malaki Branham scored 27 points and No. 22 Ohio State rallied to beat Indiana 80-69 in overtime Monday night.
Indiana led by four with 2:47 to go in regulation, but E.J. Liddell forced a steal with 1:11 remaining and slammed home the tying dunk with six seconds left.
“We played as well as we could play it,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “We lost our man Liddell at the rim. He was able to dunk it and send it to overtime. That’s probably the biggest possession of the game.”
The Hoosiers jumped ahead by two early in overtime, but Jamari Wheeler hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:58 left as Ohio State took the lead for good.
“A really, really gritty, emotional win,” Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said. “I just thought our guys were phenomenal in the closing two or three minutes.”
Branham, a freshman guard born in Columbus, finished 9 of 13 from the field and topped his season average by 16 points. Liddell had 16 points and Eugene Brown III scored 10 as Ohio State shot 48%.
The Buckeyes led by 10 with 12:06 remaining in the second half, but the Hoosiers used an 18-4 run to grab a 59-55 lead with 5:09 left.
Xavier Johnson led Indiana with 16 points, going 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson added 13 points apiece, and Parker Stewart scored 11.
“We’ve got to get them over the hump,” Woodson said. “I wish I had the magic pill to get them over the hump right now because we’re right there.”
The Buckeyes led 33-28 at halftime and pulled further ahead by making their first seven field goal attempts in the second half.
DEFENSE LEADS TO OFFENSE
Ohio State had five blocks and a steal in the second half, forcing a turnover that helped tie the game at the end of regulation.
In overtime, the Buckeyes prevented Indiana from grabbing any rebounds while snatching eight themselves. They closed the game on a 10-0 run while the Hoosiers missed their last seven shots.
“I’m so happy we just fought through adversity,” Liddell said. “Our defense carried our offense. I just felt like us locking in on that end really propelled us to go win that game.”
Over his first 10 games to start his collegiate career, Branham averaged 6.3 points. He’s averaged 17 points in the 13 games since.
Branham knocked down a pair of free throws with 53 seconds left in regulation before assisting on the game-tying dunk by Liddell. The freshman scored four points in overtime.
“I just look for the right play,” Branham said. “I’m not a guy that really forces up a bad shot. I just read the game. It’s kind of slowing down for me.”
Thad Matta, in his first season as associate athletic director for basketball administration at Indiana, returned to the Schottenstein Center for the first time as a member of the Hoosiers program.
Matta is the winningest coach in Ohio State history with a record of 337-123 in 13 seasons.
Indiana: The Hoosiers allowed 80 points for the fourth time this season. They entered with the Big Ten’s best scoring defense while limiting opponents to nearly 38% shooting, but just couldn’t hold off the Buckeyes while shooting only 34.4% themselves.
Ohio State: Second-chance points plagued the Buckeyes as they gave up 17 and managed only four. They committed 12 turnovers that led to 11 points for Indiana.
“That’s got to be more important to us than what it is right now,” Holtmann said. “Their size got us at times, but I’ve got to coach that better and we’ve got to take more ownership in that.”
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