Xavier Johnson’s flawless bounce-back style assists the Hoosiers in defeating Ohio State, 71-65.

Bloomington, Indiana: The fact that Xavier Johnson’s head coach, Mike Woodson, delivered the harsh words directly to him meant that he heard them clearly. When the Hoosiers hosted Ohio State on Saturday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the seasoned Indiana point guard knew that performance, which came in his first game in a month, could not repeat.

It did not occur.

With eight of his eleven free throws and eight three-pointers made, Johnson finished with eighteen points to help the Hoosiers defeat Ohio State 71-65. The most significant statistic? Johnson did not commit a single turnover in his 34 minutes of play.

Not even one.

This came after Johnson on Wednesday ”was awful” and ”was throwing the ball all over the gym’. It was like night and day. But it is also what you would anticipate from a six-year veteran, particularly one who acknowledged on Saturday that he had to miss seven games due to a “cracked bone in my foot.”

He did, and he did it well.

Playing a game without any turnovers is something Johnson stressed greatly. If I am being really honest, that is not something you see very often from me—an assertive guard. I have to mature. Tonight I became an adult, and I must continue to grow up.

“I was undoubtedly driven. It is been a month since I left. I was going into the Nebraska game with a little too much offensive pressure. I allowed the game to come to me tonight. I had faith in my coaching abilities. I had faith that my teammates would choose the best move. I am going to give it my all going forward because Coach Woodson has high expectations for me.

The Hoosiers only committed four turnovers against the Buckeyes, and only one of those came in the second half, just three days after mishandling the ball 19 times in a humiliating loss to Nebraska. They finished the game with a perfect record of 11-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten, only half a game behind the leaders.

“We only committed four turnovers this evening, which makes me happy. I can only tell you that. Sitting through that at Nebraska was quite unpleasant.” Woodson stated. It was the lowest point of the season and, barring the victory over Purdue in 2022, the lowest point in the Woodson era.Tonight, (Johnson) was amazing. I passed the game ball to him and CJ (Gunn).

Indiana scored the first five points in the game to get off to a nice 15-8 lead with all five of its starters. However, Jamison Battle, who had played at Minnesota for the previous two years and had big games against the Hoosiers, took off for the Buckeyes.

Battle helped the Buckeyes go on a 12-0 run by making three 3-pointers in less than three minutes. Indiana’s defenders lost track of him on all three occasions and were unable to catch up in time. The Indiana defense’s recurring issue was Anthony Walker on the third occasion, and Mackenzie Mgbako on the first two.

At 30-23, Scotty Middleton’s three-pointer gave them a seven-point lead. Xavier Johnson led Indiana on a 6-0 run in the closing minute as the team made a late comeback. With 47 seconds remaining, he made a 3-pointer and was fouled. With nine seconds remaining, he made both of the free throws he was fouled on the Hoosiers’ next possession to give Indiana a 37-36 lead.

Following a foul call at the buzzer, Zed Key of Ohio State made two free throws to give his team a 38-37 lead as they entered the locker room. Kel’el Ware and Johnson combined for eight first-half points to lead the Hoosiers. Indiana’s first-half turnover total of just three was a significant improvement over their disastrous 19 turnovers from Wednesday night’s loss to Nebraska.

With an 8-0 run to lead 46-37 at the start of the second half, Ohio State incited some unease among the restless fans.But Indiana tied it at 48 with a 3-pointer from Reneau three minutes later, and they did not let up. With 6:46 remaining, they increased their lead to 57-52 and gained some momentum when Ohio State only made one of their first 11 three-pointers in the second half.

The fear was that Ohio State’s guards would dominate, but shooting nights went poorly for Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle Jr. Gayle was 3 for 17 and Thornton was 4 for 17. Together, they shot 0 for 12 from three points, and Gayle committed five turnovers. As a team, Ohio State had 14.

Johnson’s scoop shot in the lane put Indiana ahead by eight points at 62-54, and his free throws in the closing seconds cemented the victory.

His teammates were pleased for him since they had witnessed the difficulties he had faced while recovering.

“He has been putting in a lot of effort every day, and he is eager for this. He is being counted by us. He serves as our leader, captain, and guard. We all look to him to lead, and he has performed admirably in that capacity. We are counting on him to guide us through the Big Ten.

Despite giving up 22 offensive rebounds, Indiana managed to win. Woodson said, “Their bigs kicked our butt.” On the offensive side, though, they also had some answers. Reneau scored 19 of his final 23 points in the second half.

Chris Holtmann, the Ohio State coach, has recently found Assembly Hall to be a terrifying place. Prior to Saturday night, the team had suffered three consecutive losses here, all by double digits. It is now four straight.

Indiana’s next road game is a Tuesday night trip to New Jersey to play Rutgers. At 7 p.m. ET, the game begins. The Peacock streaming service is available for five Indiana games this season, including this one.


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