Suddenly Sliding Buckeyes Drop Their Third Straight

Ohio State dropped their third straight game, falling at home to Iowa 73-57 to fall to 18-7 and 12-7 in conference play. The Buckeyes dug themselves a huge hole with a terribly inefficient first half, clawed back early in the second to get as close as two, but could not get over the hump and ultimately succumbed to the 9th ranked Hawkeyes and left Ohio State searching for answers.  In their worst offensive performance of the year,  E.J. Liddell led Ohio State with 15, while Justice Sueing added 12 and C.J. Walker had 10.

E.J. Liddell kicked off the scoring, backing in and hitting a 10 foot fade away in the middle of the paint getting the Buckeyes on the board first. Five straight Hawkeye points put Iowa on top 5-2 in the opening minutes, before Duane Washington found Sueing cutting through the lane for a lay in to cut the deficit to one.  Five more Hawkeye points, all from Luka Garza sandwiched a Sueing bucket had the Hawkeyes up 10-6. C.J. Walker buried a 17 footer from the left point off the dribble to cut the lead to 10-8 at the first media timeout of the game. Five straight Hawkeye points put Iowa up 7 before Meechie Johnson split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to six. At the under 12 minute media timeout, Iowa led 15-7 and Ohio State had gone nearly five minutes without a field goal. Liddell got the Buckeyes back on the board with a dribble drive and score at the rim to cut the lead to four. A Garza triple from the right point put Iowa back up seven and at the 8-minute media timeout, Ohio State had no rhythm offensively, missing 9 of their last 10 field goal attempts and trailed the Hawkeyes 20-11. A pair of Iowa free throws increased the margin to 11 before a Liddell dunk cut the lead back to 9. Iowa answered the dunk with one for their own but Liddell knocked down a fade away mid paint to trim the lead right back to 9. Four straight Hawkeye points increased the deficit to 13 before a Kyle Young triple from the left point cut the margin to 10. Buckets both ways preceded a Washington triple that cut the lead to 7, but Garza hit a baseline jumper and at the under 4 minute media timeout, Iowa led 35-24. Seven more Iowa points upped the run to 9-0 and the Buckeye deficit to 16 and Chris Holtmann called timeout with 51 seconds to go in the half. Liddell scored on an old-fashioned three-point play to trim the lead to 13 and after an Iowa free throw, the Buckeyes last attempt at a score went for naught despite Washington hitting a 30 footer just after the horn, and at the half, Iowa was controlling the basketball game, leading Ohio State 42-28. E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 13 while shooting just 38.7% from the floor while Iowa hit on 51.6% of their shots. The Hawkeyes also hit 5 of their 14 attempts from beyond the arc, while Ohio State hit just 2 of 10 leading to a big deficit to make up in the second twenty minutes.

Sueing drilled a triple from the right corner to open the second half and cut the lead to 11. An Iowa bucket upped the lead to 13, but a pair of Walker drives and lay ups and another Sueing triple from the right corner forced Iowa to call timeout as Ohio State had quickly cut the lead to just six with a 10-2 run and 17:52 to play. Washington cut the lead to four with a leaner at the block and after an Iowa turnover, Walker hit a jumper just left of the foul line and an 11-0 Buckeye run cut the lead to just two. Iowa ended the run as Garza caught a lob and scored just to the right of the rim and at the under 16 media timeout, Iowa led Ohio State 46-42. The Hawkeyes went on a 7-0 run to answer and increase the lead to 9, but Liddell scored at the rim to cut the game back to 7. A Justin Ahrens triple from the left corner cut the lead briefly to four but Iowa answered with a three of their own to put the Hawkeyes back up 7 and at the under 12 media timeout, Iowa led Ohio State 54-47. The Buckeyes cut it to 5 when Walker lobbed to Musa Jallow at the rim but 3 straight Buckeye turnovers later and Iowa took advantage scoring the next 8 to go up 13 at the under 8 media timeout. A pair of Sueing free throws ended the Iowa run but the Hawkeyes upped the lead back to 13 with a transition lay in off a Buckeye missed three. A Walker fade away from 10 cut the lead to 11 but Iowa scored again to answer and at the final media timeout of the game, Iowa led 68-55 and time was running out on the Buckeyes. A pair of Seth Towns free throws cut the lead to 11, but an Iowa triple increased the deficit to 14 and put an exclamation point on this one.

The Buckeyes, just a week ago were within moments of knocking off Michigan and cementing themselves as a serious national title contender. After just a week and three straight losses later and Ohio State is suddenly in a spot that nobody envisioned and that’s a team just looking for something positive heading into the postseason. They have had their deficiencies on defense all year but now their offense is now looking rather pedestrian. The lack of ball security and lack of connectivity on the offensive end has made the Buckeyes look like an average team at best. They have a week to try to figure things out but with Illinois coming to town as likely the 4th ranked team in America, they better figure things out and get healthy quickly or they will find themselves limping into the Big Ten tournament in what very likely will be a 5 seed.

The Buckeyes return home to host the aforementioned Illini on Saturday at 4PM on ESPN.

-Jason Harris

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