Sensabaugh, Likekele Lead Ohio State in Drubbing of Iowa

Ohio State took the floor on Saturday afternoon, the only Saturday Big Ten home game of the season, desperately needing a win and they got it, downing visiting Iowa 93-77.  The win ended a 5 game losing streak for Ohio State and improved their record to 11-8 and 3-5, while Iowa’s 4 game winning streak was snapped, dropping the Hawkeyes to 12-7 and 4-4 in conference play. The Buckeyes shot 56% from the floor, while holding Iowa to just 45% and utilized a big second half on the glass to win the rebounding battle 36-29. The Buckeyes used 50 points in the paint and 12 offensive rebounds to pull away from the Hawkeyes in the second half, building a double digit lead in the opening minutes and never allowed Iowa to get closer than 8 the rest of the way. Brice Sensabaugh led 5 Buckeyes in double figures with a career high 27, while Ice Likekele had a near triple double, scoring a season high 18 to go along with 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Zed Key added 11, while Sean McNeil and Justice Sueing chipped in 10 each. Iowa was led by Kris Murray’s 22, Filip Rebraca’s 15 and Ahron Ulis added 12. 

Three turnovers each way littered the opening minutes as each team went scoreless before a rebound and put back by Brice Sensabaugh got Ohio State on the board. A pair of three’s triggered an 8-0 Hawkeye run before Sensabaugh drilled a wide open three from the left wing and at the first media timeout, Iowa led Ohio State 8-5. Out of the timeout, Iowa converted an old-fashioned three point play to go up 6. On the other end, Ice Likekele lobbed to Roddy Gayle at the rim on a designed play for two and after an Ohio state steal, Justice Sueing spun to the rim for another deuce. Key split a pair of free throws to draw Ohio State within one, but a bucket on the other end stopped Ohio State’s 5-0 run. Likekele drilled a wide open three from the right corner, his first triple of the year to even the score, but a pair of Hawkeye free throws put Iowa back in front. Ohio State re-tied the game when Likekele lobbed to Felix Okpara at the rim and he flushed it home and at the under 12 media timeout, the game was tied at 15. Out of the timeout, a block by Okpara on the defensive end and on the offensive end Likekele posted up on the right block and scored off the window to put the Buckeyes in front. Sean McNeil got a steal and led a one on three break and pulled from the top for three to extend the Ohio State lead. Another Okpara block gave the ball back to Ohio State and McNeil rattled down another three to put the Buckeyes up 8. A Sueing steal on one end and a turnaround bucket mid-paint put the Buckeyes up 10 and on a 12-0 run. An Iowa hoop stopped the run but a Sueing three put Ohio State up 11. Iowa scored on back to back possessions with a three and a rebound putback and the Buckeyes took a timeout with 7:21 to go in the first half and in front 28-22. Out of the timeout, Sensabaugh drilled a three from the left corner, but back to back Buckeye turnovers led to 4 straight Hawkeye points before Sensabaugh banked in a short jumper. 5 more Hawkeye points cut the lead to two before a pair of Sensabaugh free throws dropped to extend the lead. A pair of Hawkeye free throws preceded the final media timeout with Ohio State leading 35-33 and 3:50 to play in the half. Likekele extended the Ohio State lead, scoring to the left of the rim off a dribble drive, but on the other end, two Iowa free throws answered and cut the lead back to two. Scoring would end there as a pair of turnovers each way and a Likekele short jumper at the horn fell off target and the teams hit the locker room with Ohio State holding a 37-35 lead. The Buckeyes led by as many as 12, thanks to an 18-4 run, taking a lead they did not relinquish the rest of the half. During that run, they made 7 of 8, but only hit 7 of 22 the rest of the half. Overall, Ohio State hit on 47% of their shot attempts, including 6 of 11 from three. The Buckeyes held Iowa to just 41% shooting, yet the Hawkeyes did hit 4 of their 9 three point attempts. Turnovers were an issue for both teams as Iowa turned it over 9 times, while the Buckeyes turned it over 8 times themselves. Iowa led the rebounding margin, out rebounding Ohio State 19-15.  Sensabaugh led Ohio State with 12 first half points, while Likekele and Sueing each added 7 and McNeil’s two triples gave him 6. 

Iowa opened the half with a bucket to immediately tie the game, less than 20 seconds in. Sensabaugh drilled a three from the left wing to put Ohio State back in front and after an Iowa bucket, Sueing found Likekele at the left block and he laid it in for two. Following an Iowa turnover, Sueing got in the lane and scored with a short jumper and after an Iowa miss, Ohio State got out in transition and Likekele got to the rim for a score. Another Iowa miss and in the halfcourt, Sensabaugh drilled a 12 foot fade away from the right wing while being hit and he completed the and one opportunity, knocking down the free throw and at the under 16 media timeout, the Buckeyes were on a 9-0 run and up 49-39. Iowa stopped the run with a hoop at the rim but McNeil drilled a long two, coming off a screen from the top to answer. The Buckeyes extended the lead when Okpara tipped in his own miss, but an Iowa triple cut the lead to 9. Sensabaugh fed Okpara at the rim, executing a beautiful two man game and Felix flushed it home. An Iowa triple cut the lead to 8, but an old-fashioned three point play by Gayle put Ohio State back up 11. An Iowa three trimmed the lead before Gayle knifed through the Iowa defense to lay it in left of the rim. A lay up the other way cut back into the lead before Key spun to the rim from the right block for a dunk and an Ohio State timeout at the 11:12 mark sent the teams to their respective benches with Ohio State holding a 62-52 lead. Iowa trimmed the lead to 9, splitting a pair of free throws, but Likekele split a pair of free throws and an offensive rebound by Key gave the Buckeyes another opportunity and Likekele hit a short jumper to put the Buckeyes up 12 with 10 minutes to play. An Iowa three cut into the lead but an Iowa turnover led to a transition lay in by Sensabaugh. Another Iowa triple cut back into the lead but a pair of Tanner Holden free throws put Ohio State up 10. A pair of Iowa free throws cut into the lead, but Likekele split backcourt pressure and fed Gayle for a statement dunk and at the under 8 media timeout, the Buckeyes led Iowa 71-61. Two Iowa free throws out of the timeout cut into the Buckeye lead, but Sensabaugh busted the Iowa zone with a straight on three from the top. Key took a Likekele pass at the right block and scored off the window and after an Iowa miss, Key scored in the middle of the paint and the Buckeyes were up 15. After Iowa missed the front end of a one and one, Sueing was fouled going to the rim and split both freebies as Ohio State was pulling away. Iowa scored, tipping in a miss to stop the Ohio State 8-0 run, but a Sensabaugh lay in put the Buckeyes back up 16. Iowa scored on the other end, but a Likekele fade away mid-paint answered. Iowa trimmed the lead to 13 with a triple and at the media timeout with 2:43 to play, Ohio State led 83-70. A pair of Likekele free throws out of the timeout extended the lead. After an Iowa bucket, Likekele fed Sensabaugh cutting along the baseline to answer. Iowa cut into the lead with a triple and Ohio State took a timeout, leading 87-75 and 1:31 to play. Iowa began playing the foul game, sending Likekele to the stripe for a one and one and Ice missed the front end giving the ball back to Iowa, but solid halfcourt defense caused an offensive foul giving the ball right back to Ohio State. Facing full court pressure, McNeil got behind the defense and scored with a lay-in off the glass and after an Iowa miss, Key went to the stripe and bagged both to put an exclamation point on this one. Key got behind the Iowa defense after a score and got to the rim for a dunk, but landed funny and injured his knee and hopefully it’s nothing serious. After an Iowa miss, Ohio State ran out the clock and left the floor with the losing streak in the rearview. 

A renewed energy fueled Ohio State in this basketball game. Ice Likekele’s presence at the point with Bruce Thornton struggling with a wrist injury as well as the impact Roddy Gayle made in this game and the Buckeyes looked like an entirely different and confident team on this day. Kudos to Chris Holtmann and the staff in this one. The change in the starting lineup, bringing Sueing and McNeil off the bench, while starting Likekele and Gayle made a difference from the jump. McNeil, however, was on the bench at the outset due to a dental procedure he had recently, but still made an impact in this game. Gayle’s presence on both ends was felt as well. His length allowed Ohio State to be more versatile on the defensive end and he gained some confidence offensively as well, chipping in 9 points. Sueing also got back on track, coming off the bench with confidence and impacted the game positively on both ends. Overall, Ohio State was very efficient on the offensive end, moving without the basketball, especially from the weak side, which allowed for better spacing and easy shots near the rim. Defensively, the impact Likekele had on Murray can not be understated, despite Murray scoring 22, they weren’t easy and his teammates followed suit, staying connected and attacking the glass, especially in the second half, limiting Iowa to one shot on most possessions which gave the Buckeyes an opportunity to pull away and score 56 second half points. A big crowd at the Schott was rewarded with an outstanding performance and this win can be a big mental shot in the arm that they can take going forward. If they can take this kind of effort going forward, success will follow. It won’t get easier as they head back to the road for back to back games, but one game at a time and try to string some wins together.

Ohio State heads back to the road looking to get on a roll, facing Illinois in Champaign on Tuesday evening.  Tip time is scheduled for 7 PM and airing on ESPN.

-Jason Harris

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