Bloomington, Ind. – Ohio State guard C.J. Jackson relied on sheer instincts Friday night.
Instead of going with the Buckeyes’ designed final play, he changed it on the fly.
When Jackson finally got control of the pass in the closing seconds of double overtime, he faked another pass and spotted up for a 25-footer and that silenced Indiana’s crowd with 1.7 seconds left and gave No. 16 Ohio State an 80-78 victory.
“You dream of playing in buildings like this when you’re younger and just to have one of these moments is unbelievable,” Jackson said after scoring 13 points.
This wasn’t just another win for the Buckeyes (24-7, 15-3 Big Ten), either.
They needed this one to have any hope of claiming a share of the conference crown in coach Chris Holtmann’s first season. They still need No. 2 Michigan State to lose Sunday at Wisconsin.
And on a night Ohio State dealt with foul trouble and fatigue, Jackson’s brilliant switcheroo was exactly what Ohio State needed.
“We ran a similar action for Jae’Sean Tate at the end of the first OT or whatever it was, and we didn’t execute that real well. The presence of mind to get the shot up,” Holtmann said, shaking his head. “I think CJ may prefer to take a 25-footer rather than get it in a little deeper.”
He didn’t have much of a choice.
With both teams out of timeouts and Indiana clinging to a 78-77 lead after Juwan Morgan’s layup with seven seconds to go, the Buckeyes pushed the ball up the floor.
But rather than look for the trailing Tate or star forward Keita Bates-Diop, Jackson did the natural thing.
“I just felt like I had the best look we were going to get with the time left,” he said.
All the Hoosiers could muster was a half-court heave from Robert Johnson that came up well short at the buzzer.
Bates-Diop had 24 points and tied his career-high with 14 rebounds. Tate finished with 12 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Indiana (16-14 9-9) was led by Juwan Morgan with 18 points and Johnson, who had 17 in what could be his final game at Assembly Hall.
“Really disappointed for our fans and our seniors in particular,” coach Archie Miller said. “I thought we did enough at the end and we just had a breakdown at the end to contest the shot.”
But from the moment Indiana took a 61-59 lead on Josh Newkirk’s layup with 3:54 left in regulation, it was a cliffhanger.
Neither team scored after Indiana’s Justin Smith made two free throws left with 2:18 in regulation.
Neither team led by more than two in the first overtime, which ended tied at 70.
And neither led by more than one in the second overtime – until Jackson’s knocked down the long 3.
(At) Toledo 89, Central Michigan 76: Tre’Shaun Fletcher had 28 points and nine assists, Jaelan Sanford 23, including a season-high five 3-pointers for Toledo (20-9, 12-4 MAC West), which shot 60 percent on 3-pointers..
Cecil Williams had 25 points and eight rebounds, Shawn Roundtree scored 20 and Kevin McKay 17 for the Chippewas (16-13, 5-11).
(At) Milwaukee 90, Detroit Mercy 45: Brianne Cohen scored 12 and Ashley Miller had 10 for the Titans (2-26, 2-15 Horizon), who have dropped 10 of their last 11.
(At) Green Bay 78, Oakland 48: Sha'Keya Green finished with 15 points and Lead Somerfield and Taylor Gleason each had 11 as the Golden Grizzlies 13-15, 6-11 Horizon) shot only 30 percent (7-of-23) from the field in the second half.
(At) No. 18 Rhode Island 81, Dayton 56: Jeff Dowtin scored 20 points, E.C. Matthews added 18 and Rhode Island (22-5, 15-1) wrapped up its first outright Atlantic-10 regular-season title. Jared Terrell had 17 points to help the Rams (22-5, 15-1) win for the 18th time in 19 games. It was their second straight after their school-record 16-game winning streak was halted by St. Bonaventure last Friday night. Jalen Crutcher led the Flyers (13-15, 7-9) with 12 points.