Ohio State Falls Behind Big Early, Losing at #20 Iowa

The 25th ranked Ohio State men’s basketball team found life on the road difficult, going into Iowa City and falling to the 20th ranked Hawkeyes 85-76.  With the loss, Ohio State falls to 7-8 in conference play and 17-9 overall. E.J. Liddell was the lone bright spot of the ballgame, leading Ohio State with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Duane Washington’s late flurry enabled him to score 15 for the game. C.J. Walker added 11 and Kaleb Wesson scored 10 to go with 7 rebounds. The Buckeyes shot just 42% from the floor including just 9 of 30 from deep.  The front-runner for Big Ten Player of the Year, Luka Garza led Iowa with 24 as the Hawkeyes hit 56% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc in the win.

It was all Iowa from the outset, hitting a pair of triples to get out to a quick 6-0 lead.  C.J. Walker buried a three off of dribble penetration and kick from Luther Muhammad to calm the storm but only briefly. A bucket the other way and a Buckeye turnover on the inbounds turned into an old-fashioned three-point play by Iowa to put the Hawkeyes up 11-3.  After a Buckeye miss, Iowa scored in transition to up the lead to 10 less than four minutes into the basketball game. A Luka Garza triple increased the Iowa lead to 16-3 and it stood at 18-3 when E.J. Liddell got Ohio State back on the board with a rebound put back while being fouled.  Liddell buried the free throw to complete the three-point play and cut Iowa’s lead to 18-6.  The Buckeye cold shooting continued and at the under 12 media timeout, Iowa led by a commanding margin of 24-8 as Ohio State had hit just 3 of their first 14 shot attempts including just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc. A triple each way had the score at 27-11 but the red-hot shooting Hawkeyes ballooned the lead to 31-13 with 8:30 to go in the half.  Luther Muhammad buried a three after a Kyle Young offensive rebound kept the possession alive to cut the lead, but Iowa was still comfortably ahead, 31-16 at the under 8 timeout. The Buckeyes began to chip away and after Andre Wesson found C.J. Walker on the backdoor cut for a layup while being fouled and the ensuing free throw dropped, Ohio State trailed by just 12.  On the next possession following an Iowa miss, Andre Wesson found his brother Kaleb on the block for a score to cut the lead to 10.  The Iowa lead stood at 10 the under 4 media timeout but with Ohio State on a 5-0 run. A bucket each way kept the margin at 10 but Luka Garza scored while being fouled by Kaleb Wesson, his second, and hit the free throw to give Iowa a 13-point lead. E.J. Liddell buried a turnaround 15 footer to cut the lead to 11 and Andre Wesson scored in transition to get the lead back to single digits at 9.  Iowa answered with a Garza triple to go back up 12 but another Liddell jumper followed on the next possession by a Kyle Young rebound put back, trimmed the lead to just 8. A late Iowa 3 put the Hawkeyes capped the half and put Iowa back up 11 as the teams went to the halftime locker room with Iowa on top 46-35. Iowa led by as many as 18 before the Buckeyes got as close as 8 late in the half with improved shooting and defense, but it was all Hawkeyes for the majority of the first half.  Ohio State was led by E.J. Liddell’s 11 and shot 44% from the field but just 3 of 13 from long range. Iowa scorched the nets to the tune of 62% from the field and 43% from long range led by Garza’s 17 to create a comfortable halftime margin.

C.J. Walker found Kaleb Wesson for the first score of the 2nd half to cut Iowa’s lead to 9 but Iowa would score the next 3 to go back up 12. A Walker triple from the top of the key trimmed the lead back to 9 just 3 minutes into the half and at the under 16 media timeout, Iowa led 51-42.  The Buckeyes had four opportunities to get the game within a couple possessions but failed and following back to back Buckeye turnovers, Iowa made them pay, scoring the next 5 to lead 56-42 forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with 14:17 remaining and the game hanging in the balance.  The Buckeyes scored the next four to cut the lead to 10 but an Iowa bucket stopped the mini-run to lead again by 12 at the under 12 media timeout as the Buckeyes were still struggling from the floor, hitting just 3 of their first 12 second half shot attempts. An Iowa triple out of the timeout put the Hawkeyes up 15 but a Walker lay up in transition cut it back to 13 before Iowa scored the next 3 to build the Hawkeye lead back to 16. Andre Wesson hit a short runner to cut the lead back to 14 and at the under 8 timeout, Iowa led 64-50. 5 straight Hawkeye points gave Iowa their largest lead at 19 with just 6:33 left in the game. A 6-0 Buckeye run, all from the stripe got the Buckeyes to within 13 and after an Iowa score, Duane Washington Jr. drilled a triple to cut the lead to 12 but with just 5 minutes to go. The Buckeyes would cut the lead to 10 after a Kaleb Wesson 3 with under a minute to go and a Justin Ahrens triple from the corner dropped cut it to 8. Washington buried a three with 17 seconds to go as the suddenly hot Buckeyes trimmed the lead to 7, but Iowa converted at the stripe late to seal it and fend off a late Buckeye flurry.

An awful start for the Buckeyes and that’s just something you cannot do on the road and expect to win.  The Buckeyes were playing comeback for nearly the entire game and after falling down 18 in the first 5 minutes, outscored the Hawkeyes by 9 the rest of the way. Although Ohio State didn’t shoot it very well at all for much of the game, they continued to play hard and can be a nice building block as they move forward for the remainder of the conference slate. Unfortunately, Ohio State never got close enough to make Iowa feel uncomfortable and the Hawkeyes were able to hang on for the win. It was a damaging loss, but not entirely unexpected and it won’t get any easier this weekend. The Buckeyes will have a chance at a big time tournament building win on Sunday when Maryland visits Columbus. They will need to do a much better job taking care of the basketball and be much more consistent on offense to pull off the upset at home but they are certainly capable.

Ohio State returns home on Sunday to host 7th ranked Maryland at 4pm on Sunday and airing on CBS.


-Jason Harris

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