Despite playing without freshman center Noah Vonleh Sunday, the IU men’s basketball team rode solid performances from sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and senior forward Will Sheehey to a 72-64 victory against the No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes.
The duo combined for 39 points on 13-of-26 shooting, and time and time again made plays that kept Ohio State at bay.
Sheehey, who finished with 19 points, had a game-high four steals.
He had one more steal than Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, who Sunday recorded his 324th career steal. Craft tied with Illinois’ Bruce Douglas for the most all-time in the Big Ten.
Sheehey, who jumped for IU at the opening tip, went 8-of-12 from the field and has scored 49 points his last two games. After the game Sheehey said he feels IU collectively is playing well.
“I think we’re just clicking on all cylinders right now,” Sheehey said.
To begin the game, Hoosiers were stagnant on offense, scoring only nine points in the game’s first 10 minutes and 56 seconds.
After Ohio State’s Lenzelle Smith Jr. made one of two free throws, the Hoosiers went on a 16-0 run that began when Ferrell hit a layup with six minutes 59 seconds to play in the first.
From that moment until the end of the half, the Hoosiers would outscore the Buckeyes 21-5.
In the second half, Ohio State got within one point of the Hoosiers after LaQuinton Ross hit a jumper with nine minutes 22 seconds left to play.
On its next two possessions, IU would get 3-pointers from Sheehey and graduate student guard Evan Gordon, extending its lead to 54-47. The Buckeyes would not get closer than five points from there until the game’s end.
In his postgame press conference, a jovial IU Coach Tom Crean compared Big Ten play and his team to a boxing bout.
“Our players just responded,” Crean said. “This league is so tough that the only thing you can liken it to is a 15-round fight every night. We’ve been answering every round.”
Crean said Sheehey has been making big shots these past two games.
“That’s the product of being in the right place at the right time, because you’re always moving,” Crean said.
At the helm of IU’s offense was Ferrell, who manned a unit that scored 72 points against the Big Ten’s best defensive team. Ferrell had a team-high four assists.
Though the Hoosiers turned the ball over 18 times, they also had 16 assists, 11 more than the Buckeyes.
After the game, Ferrell said IU has gained momentum going 2-1 in a six-day stretch.
“We just gotta keep the ball rolling,” Ferrell said. “We just gotta get out there and keep playing.”
Jeremy Hollowell started in place of Vonleh and finished the game with four points and five rebounds. Collectively, players who took Vonleh’s minutes combined for 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Sophomore forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea had the biggest impact in Vonleh’s absence. He finished the game with eight points, five rebounds and three blocks.
Mosquera-Perea was able to curtail Ohio State’s offensive rebounding, in part limiting the Buckeyes to just eight second-chance points.
Mosquera-Perea also displayed a knack for putting the ball in the hoop. He went 3-of-4 from the field and showed off a turnaround 10-foot jumper as well as an alley-oop, which he laid in while getting fouled.
The win improves the Hoosiers’ record to 17-12 on the season and 7-9 in conference play, bumping them up to seventh in the Big Ten standings.
Sheehey said afterwards that he and his teammates believe they have an opportunity in the next two weeks to garner attention from the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
“We think so,” Sheehey said. “If we win our next two games, obviously were taking them one game at a time, but if we win our next two games and make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, I think we have a pretty good résumé.”