It wasn't pretty but Evan Turner and his fellow Buckeyes overcame some adversity for a change in the form of four points per game scorer Devan Bawinkel's career high eight threes to hang on 60-58 in a must win game over the Hawkeyes.
The much maligned Buckeye defense conceded 12 Iowa triples (12/29, 41%) on the night but at least came out in man to man defense for the first time since fire was invented and they stuck with it much of the first half. That strategy produced the same typical results as the zone, however, as Iowa shot 6/14 (43%) in the opening 20 minutes.
Though the defense was again tough on the eyes for stretches, OSU deserves some credit for holding Iowa scoreless over the final 2:27 and to only six points (two triples) over the final 7:34.
The tightening up on D down the stretch proved crucial as the offense managed to shoot 5/7 over that same 7:34 to secure the victory. It was far from pretty though as Turner turned it over with 27 ticks left and OSU leading 60-58 before missing the front end of a one and one with five seconds remaining setting up a good look at a three by Jermain Davis that caromed off the back then front iron as time expired.
Despite the few rough possessions from Turner in the waning moments, the kid posted game highs of 22 points (10/17) and a career high nine assists. Looking to create off the bounce almost exclusively in the second half, after a steady diet of midrange jumpers (4/9 FG) in the first, Turner helped OSU produce 20 points in the paint in the final 20 minutes after only registering two as the Buckeyes trailed 32-30 at intermission.
I know anyone who watched this one is well aware it could have gone either way but again, I'm pleased OSU showed some moxie while getting some clutch, if not consistent plays from guys like Dallas Lauderdale and P.J. Hill.
Lauderdale was Invisidale for the most part but he picked up three blocks including a colossal swat with the game on the line while Hill continued his pesky, if not spectacular play with five points, two boards and a big block / jump ball giving OSU possession with the game tied at 44 before the under 12 minute TV timeout. A role play from a role player. Me likes.
Jon Diebler (12 pts, (4/7 FG) was the only other Buckeye in double figures but the team continued their sharpshooting ways hitting 56% from the floor (7/14 3FG). Wil Buford stayed true to form as of late disappearing in the second half after scoring seven points in the first.
I'm not sure if the kid is just tired due to big minutes in a physical conference or what? No matter the cause, it needs addressed because this team isn't going to do much if he can't consistently help at the offensive end especially when you consider his continued struggles to add anything defensively.
Keeping with the defense, a positive way to look at tonight is subtracting Bawinkle's unpredictable explosion (8/13 FG) OSU held the rest of the Hawkeyes to 34% (11/32) in addition to the aforementioned late game lock down. Still, it's hard not to think this team's ceiling is very limited as it pertains to post-season success.
Beating Iowa should not be considered a Herculean accomplishment but that's what we're left with as we wait for Northwestern to arrive Sunday afternoon to conclude the regular season.
At 9-8 in conference and 19-9 overall, it goes without saying the Wildcats serve as another must win if OSU wants to play in the real tournament.
There seems to be one camp thinking the NIT will serve this team better in the long run while those like me think an NCAA bid is the only acceptable outcome. Where do you land?
I'd much rather go one and done in the Dance since I'm of the opinion they'll all be back except for B.J. Mullens leaving them plenty of time to play together in the off season versus winning a few games in the NIT but that's just me. I mean, I know the 2010 class is going to be sick but I don't think it's all that healthy for the program if Matta is forced to brag about NIT success.