BIG TEN Dials helps OSU crush Indiana
The former Boardman High standout scored 14 points in a 57-44 win.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Ohio State center Terence Dials said he saw Indiana players saying on TV that they had two difficult games left -- and Ohio State wasn't one of them.
The Buckeyes made the Hoosiers pay for that slight with a 57-44 win on Tuesday night.
"They kind of overlooked us and said they only had two tough games left," said Dials, who had 14 points. "Maybe they should go back and take some of that stuff back. That got a lot of our guys riled up."
J.J. Sullinger scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half and Jamar Butler added a career-high 13 for the Buckeyes (18-8, 7-5 Big Ten), who have won six of their last seven. The Buckeyes took over fourth place in the conference with the win.
While other schools in similar straits are close to locking up NCAA berths, the Buckeyes are headed nowhere.
No post season play
Ohio State President Karen Holbrook and outgoing athletic director Andy Geiger announced in December that the Buckeyes would not play in the NCAA or NIT tournaments to head off stiffer penalties for violations which occurred under former coach Jim O'Brien.
Thad Matta, who took over the Buckeyes after O'Brien was fired last summer, said he didn't get any joy out of making things harder for Indiana and other "bubble" teams.
"I'm honestly more concerned with us," Matta said. "I don't like the fact that people talk now about the tournament and all that stuff. Hey, enjoy the game. Maybe I'm saying that because we can't compete in the tournament. But two teams played hard out there for 40 minutes. I'm glad we won but I feel badly for Indiana because they competed hard too."
D.J. White had 17 points and Robert Vaden 14 for Indiana (11-11, 6-5), which dropped to 1-7 on the road.
Rallied down stretch
Ohio State pried open a lead in the final minutes thanks to the inspired play of Dials, Sullinger and sub Matt Sylvester during a 15-2 run.
Down 36-33 midway through the half, the Buckeyes tied it on a Sullinger jumper and a free throw by Dials. Dials then scored the go-ahead bucket off an assist by Sylvester for a 38-36 lead with 8:32 to go. A Sylvester free throw pushed the lead to three.
After Marshall Strickland scored for the Hoosiers, Dials hit two free throws, Sullinger popped in a 3 from the right corner off a Sylvester pass and Dials scored again with Sylvester assisting for a 46-38 lead. Sullinger made it a 10-point lead on a fallaway 18-footer as the shot clock sounded with 3:21 left, capping a 9-0 Ohio State spurt.
"We just had to make plays down the stretch," Sullinger said. "The last game against Indiana at their place came down to them making plays and we didn't."
Best game since November
Sullinger's point total was his most this season since scoring 21 against Chattanooga in November. He hit 7-of-10 shots from the field, 2-of-5 3-pointers and his only free throw and added six rebounds and two assists.
The Hoosiers were without leading scorer Bracey Wright, who missed his third game in a row with an ankle sprain. He had scored 23 points and had seven rebounds and three assists in Indiana's 67-60 win over the Buckeyes on Jan. 22.