By Sam Kienzle
IOWA CITY, Iowa—What started out as a competitive first half for the Iowa Hawkeyes against #6 Ohio State ended as a forgettable trouncing from the Buckeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of an announced crowd of 15,400, as the Buckeyes flew to a 76-47 final on Saturday afternoon. Iowa fell to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten. Jared Sullinger led the Buckeyes in scoring with 28 points in a game where Iowa’s players seemed to get their pockets picked for every time they came up with a steal of their own while struggling to contain the husky center Sullinger.
Defense-minded Eric May (2 steals) led all Iowa scorers with 9 points on 4-of-10 shooting while snaring a team-high 6 rebounds.
The Buckeyes, now 15-2 (3-1 in the Big Ten), used a 14-2 run at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half to pull away and stay far ahead of Iowa. The run extended to 20-8 with 13:13 left. The rest of the game consisted of more Buckeye athleticism, steals, and quick, coerced shots by the Hawkeyes at the literal hands of the Bucks—few times did it seem like Iowa had an open look or a drive to the basket that wasn’t either swatted away or clawed at by the sticky fingers of the Ohio State team.
At one point late in the second half, Ohio State’s lead ballooned to 33 under a shelling of three-pointers from the Buckeyes’ Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith, who finished with 10 points and 6 points, respectively. At that point, fans had already begun to head for the exits for what was a near-sellout. It was Iowa’s biggest, loudest home crowd of the year after the team generated a buzz prior to the game with road wins at (then) #11 Wisconsin and Minnesota. There was no buzz at the end except for the game-ending buzzer, as disappointed fans left quickly and quietly.
Iowa did have one lead for the game, a 6-5 edge with 13:46 left on a free throw by Zach McCabe (6 points). Ohio State rebutted with a 13-3 run to take an 18-9 lead with 7:16 left in the first half. Iowa clawed back to a three point deficit, 19-22, with 2:47 left.
From there on out, however, it was all scarlet and gray. They closed the half on a 7-0 run to take a 28-19 lead into halftime. Iowa could not take advantage of being in the double-bonus for foul shooting with over three minutes left in the first half.
No Hawkeye defender had an answer for Sullinger, who towered around the basket and regularly blocked or disrupted Iowa’s field goal attempts in the paint. It was definitely no heavyweight rematch of 2010, when Melsahn Basabe and Sullinger battled—each scoring double-doubles—to a close loss for the Hawkeyes. This time around, Sullinger dunked, rebounded, and tossed in easy lay-ups while Iowa’s lack of size and girth became annoyingly obvious to its coaches and fans. Basabe finished with 2 points in 14 minutes.
Iowa did force 15 Buckeye turnovers, but were victimized by 20 turnovers (including 12 steals) to only 7 assists. Iowa’s next two games are at #11 Michigan State on January 10th and at home against #13 Michigan on January 14th.