BLOOMINGTON, IND., JAN. 21 -- Piling up a 22-point lead and taking Indiana's best shot in a pressure-filled second half tonight, No. 4 Ohio State proved definitively that it belongs among the nation's elite.
The 93-85 victory on a court where the Buckeyes rarely have beaten Coach Bob Knight's teams undoubtedly will leapfrog them in the rankings over the No. 3 Hoosiers, who brought a 14-game winning streak into this game.
The Buckeyes improved their Big Ten record to 6-0 and are 16-0 overall. Paired with No. 1 Nevada-Las Vegas as the nation's only undefeated Division I teams, Ohio State is off to its best start since 1962, when it was the NCAA tournament runner-up.
As impressive as Coach Randy Ayers's team was in tonight's opening 20 minutes, when it took a 48-29 lead, holding the Hoosiers (16-2, 4-1) to 29 percent shooting with eight field goals and no assists, Ohio State perhaps really opened the nation's eyes by withstanding a second-half rush.
The home team had trailed by 22 points but closed to 84-81 with 1:21 remaining. But the Buckeyes stayed tough to seal the win, just the second for Ohio State in 19 games at Assembly Hall.
"I thought we'd trade baskets the whole game and at the end it would be a matter of our poise or their home-court advantage," said Ohio State forward Treg Lee, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds. "We were strong and focused in the beginning to build that lead but we knew that all good home teams will make a run but we were able to keep our poise."
Guard Jamaal Brown led the winners with a career-high 29 points, with forward Jim Jackson scoring 20. Calbert Cheaney scored 22 of his team-high 28 points in the second half to fuel Indiana's comeback.
"We told them that if we were able to cut it to 10 points with 10 minutes left we had a chance to win," said Knight. "We did that but we didn't really have a chance. To their credit they took that chance away from us."
Indiana's big move began at the 14-minute mark. A three-point field goal by Chris Jent gave Ohio State a 62-42 lead, two points fewer than the 54-32 margin the Hoosiers had begun to reduce. But Cheaney scored on an inbounds lob pass from freshman Damon Bailey to start a 19-7 run that made the score 69-61 with 8:45 remaining.
During the rally, the Hoosiers scored on three three-point plays and got a three-point field goal from Greg Graham.
Cheaney made a three-point basket and Eric Anderson added two free throws with 4:56 left to make the score 76-70. The Hoosiers continued to peck away and a short jumper in the lane by Cheaney with 1:21 remaining made it 84-81.
Ohio State had turned over the ball on two of its three possessions preceding Cheaney's shot. After the field goal, the Hoosiers took a timeout and the sellout crowd of 17,318 began screaming in earnest for another miscue by the Buckeyes.
But as Indiana pressed in the backcourt after play resumed, Brown managed to sneak away, hitting a layup and adding a free throw after being fouled on the shot.
"I may have made a mistake," Knight said. "When we got to within three maybe we should have backed off a bit on the pressure and tried to force an error, but they made a really good play to get it back up to six and it was difficult to come back from there."
Ohio State put it away with a half-dozen free throws.
The backbreaker was just one of many big plays by Brown, who scored four of Ohio State's last seven baskets. The junior from Texas was three for three in three-point attempts.
"It wasn't a case of my taking over, I was just taking open shots and being confident," he said. "We got a lot of good picks and their men were rushing at us off-balance so we were able to take them to the basket or fake them for the jump shot." OHIO STATE (93)
Jackson 8-13 3-6 20, Lee 6-11 5-7 17, Carter 1-3 3-6 5, Baker 6-8 1-2 13, Brown 8-10 10-11 29, Jent 2-5 0-0 5, Robinson 1-2 0-0 2, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Brandewie 1-1 0-0 2, Skelton 0-0 0-0 0.Totals 33-53 22-32 93.
Anderson 3-10 9-14 15, Cheaney 10-20 7-7 28, Lawson 0-4 2-2 2, Jones 1-4 0-0 2, Meeks 0-1 0-0 0, Bailey 6-12 4-7 16, Reynolds 0-2 0-0 0, Nover 1-2 1-2 3, P.Graham 1-2 0-0 3, G.Graham 6-8 3-3 16.Totals 28-65 26-35 85.
Halftime: Ohio State, 48-29.
Three-point goals: Ohio St. 5-7 (Brown 3-3, Jackson 1-2, Jent 1-2), Indiana 3-13 (P.Graham 1-2, G.Graham 1-3, Cheaney 1-4, Jones 0-2, Bailey 0-2). Rebounds: Ohio St. 37 (Lee 11), Indiana 28 (Anderson 9). Assists: Ohio St. 17 (Jackson 5), Indiana 10 (Bailey 5). Fouled out: Jent. Total fouls: Ohio St. 25, Indiana 26. Attendance: 17,318.