Hoosiers seeking revenge against Buckeyes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 21, 2003

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana Hoosiers learned a lesson in Columbus, Ohio: They have to play basketball their way.

That means listening to coach Mike Davis, following the game plan, working for shots, unleashing their hard-nosed style -- and not letting up.

Play that way, and the Hoosiers usually look like one of the nation's top teams. Play any other way, and, well, No. 14 Indiana is beatable, as Ohio State already has proven once this year.

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The two teams meet again Tuesday night in Bloomington.

''I thought Ohio State was a letdown by us,'' guard Kyle Hornsby said. ''They came out full force and we didn't. They made us look like fools.''

Hornsby wasn't the only one criticizing the Hoosiers' performance.

Davis publicly questioned the leadership of his seniors last week, following the 81-69 loss to the Buckeyes. Indiana responded with back-to-back wins at home.

What Davis witnessed in those two games was a reversion to the way Indiana (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) played early this season, when they were ranked as high as No. 6, and late last season, when they reached the national championship game.

The Hoosiers hit 13 3-pointers, tying a season-high, in Wednesday's victory over Northwestern. On Saturday, Indiana pounded the ball inside and got a huge game from forward Jeff Newton to beat No. 8 Illinois.

They won those games despite not having their leading scorer, Bracey Wright. Wright, who has a nerve injury in his lower back, again will be a game-time decision Tuesday night.

The Hoosiers are looking at the bigger picture, though.

A victory over Ohio State (8-7, 1-3) would not only keep Indiana among the early conference front-runners by sweeping three straight home games, but it also would give the Hoosiers a split in the season series and some semblance of redemption.

''The only word to describe it was embarrassing,'' guard Tom Coverdale said. ''Hopefully, we'll play with the same amount of intensity and heart as we did against Illinois.''

Ohio State has its own problems. The Buckeyes lost their last two games at home, including a 53-52 loss to Wisconsin Saturday night.

Center Terence Dials has missed nine games with a back injury and isn't expected to be ready Tuesday night.

Guards Brent Darby and Sean Connolly are playing on bruised legs, and Brandon Fuss-Cheatham isn't healthy either. His left knee is still swollen after having surgery on Nov. 25.

Regardless, the Buckeyes expect better.

''I'm tired of saying this, but we have to step it up in the next game,'' forward Shun Jenkins said. ''We have to get it going on the offensive end.''

Making matters worse for the Buckeyes is their brutal schedule.

They play three of the top four conference teams -- Indiana, Purdue and Iowa -- in nine days, all on the road.

''It's not only that we're playing on the road, it's that the teams we are playing against are a combined 9-1,'' Buckeyes coach Jim O'Brien said. ''Ironically, the only loss Indiana has was to us.''

The Hoosiers remember the gory details of their Jan. 11 game in Columbus all too well.

Darby scored 28 points, Jenkins had 22 points and seven rebounds, and the Hoosiers did little right. They shot a school-record 34 3-pointers and connected on only nine.

That's not how Davis diagrammed it.

''A point of emphasis the last couple games has been to go inside,'' Davis said. ''We didn't do that against Ohio State.''

Now, 10 days later, they have a chance to make amends.

Indiana has not played a team twice in that close a span since 1997, when it was the Buckeyes. That year, they lost the first game at Ohio State, then won at home.

To duplicate that scenario, Indiana knows what it must do: It must play its style.

''We remember that game,'' Coverdale said of the first meeting with the Buckeyes. ''We know we have to come in here and play better this time.''