Buckeyes Hold On for 72-63 Win After Lead Evaporates

By Kyle Rowland on January 22, 2013 at 9:57p
Iowa bloodied Deshaun Thomas, but he still led the Buckeyes in scoring for the 15th time this season

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Defense has been Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery’s secret weapon in the Hawkeyes’ re-emergence this season. But for the first 28 minutes against Ohio State, it was another road no-show for Iowa. Carver-Hawkeye Arena this was not. 

The Buckeyes led, 53-29, and looked well on their way to holding serve in the Big Ten title race. Losses to good teams on the road – what Ohio State experienced at Michigan State on Saturday – are tolerable in small numbers. Once you fall at home, though, all bets are off.

The 24-point lead seemed like a return to normalcy for No. 14 Ohio State. The scoring was spaced out among seven different players instead of just Deshaun Thomas and turnovers took a backseat to assists off crisp passes.

Then Thomas was elbowed above the right eye, causing a large gash that sent him to the locker room for three minutes. At the same time, McCaffery reminded his team what got them into position to be mentioned among the top-half of the conference: defense.

Fourteen second-half turnovers by Ohio State allowed Iowa to slowly get back into the game, until what once seemed to be an insurmountable lead eventually fell to just four points.

“We dug in defensively,” McCaffery said. “A lot of times teams don’t have the maturity and the patience to chip away. Once we got a couple steals we got them a little sideways by scrambling a little bit and trapping. We got a couple turnovers, easy baskets and got the free throw line.”

A lax defense that was present for much of the game turned into a full-court press, and it was something Ohio State was not prepared for. Point guards Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott had eight of the Buckeyes’ 17 total turnovers. Iowa scored 22 points off those miscues.

“That’s unacceptable,” Craft said. “I had a couple turnovers down the stretch that you just can’t have when you want to close out games. Before you know it, you have to find ways to make plays at the end.

“Iowa sped us up and got us out of our rhythm. We finally found a press-breaker we liked, and it started working. They weren’t relaxing after one pass, they continued to come and it got us off guard and caused some turnovers.”

When it became a free-throw shooting contest in the final 1:30, Ohio State outscored Iowa, 9-4, to close out the 72-63 win.

Ravenel has responded well to his role off the bench.

On the coldest day of the year, the Hawkeyes finished 13 of 26 from the free throw line and a dismal 22 of 62 from the field. Otherwise, it may have been a nuclear winter in Columbus. A loss would have sent them tumbling to a 3-3 record in the conference entering Saturday’s game at Penn State. Instead, the Buckeyes are 4-2 and still firmly in the hunt for a fourth straight Big Ten championship.

“A win is a win in conference play,” Craft said. “That was a big win for us to try to keep us in the hunt. We still have a lot of basketball to play. We didn’t do it in the prettiest way. We didn’t finish the way we probably wanted to, but we got the win.”

Similar to Ohio State, Iowa’s four Big Ten losses have all come to ranked opponents – Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State. The Hawkeyes are now 2-4 in the Big Ten.

Thomas finished with a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds despite his bloody cut, Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 12 points each and Evan Ravenel added 11. Craft had four steals, setting the career steals record at Ohio State, surpassing former record-holder Jay Burson. 

Perhaps the most curious stat line of the night belonged to Amir Williams, who finished with six blocks and zero rebounds.

“I felt I was going after too many blocks and got myself out of position to rebound the basketball,” he said. “That’s something Coach Matta has talked to me about, getting blocks but staying in position. It’s something that’s really fixable.”

Strongsville, Ohio, native Aaron White led Iowa with 13 points.

Iowa outrebounded Ohio State, 40-34 overall and 22-11 on the offensive glass. Those 22 rebounds helped the Hawkeyes enjoy 24 second-chance points. Unfortunately for Iowa, its season leader in scoring, Roy Devyn Marble, finished 2 of 11 form the field with eight points. He was also 3 of 6 from the free throw line.

The Buckeyes became just the second team this season, along with Michigan, to shoot better than 50 percent from the field against Iowa. The Buckeyes never fell below 50 percent in either half, finishing 27 of 52 (51.9 percent) for the game.

“I do think in the league we’re in you take your wins and semi-celebrate them,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. “But then you say, ‘How do you get better?’”

Said Ravenel: “We’re happy we got the win, but we aren’t happy the way we won.”


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Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I'm just amazed that Amir isn't as aggressive rebounding as he is going for blocks.

10pts/10rebs/5blks a game. Is that too much to ask?

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

IBleedSandG's picture

No shit! He was pretty aggressive blocking some shots before Iowa could even get the ball up towards the rim.


Torpedo Vegas's picture

Yeeesh those rebounding numbers. DO NOT WANT.


What's really alarming me this season isn't the lack of a 2nd scorer its the realization that once Thomas jumps to the NBA the 2013-14 team could realistically not have a single scorer over 10 PPG. Maybe Lenzelle next season if he steps up in the 2nd half of this season. Two years removed from the Final Four and this could happen? That's inexcusable.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Interrobanged's picture

Hopefully something clicks with Ross in the offseason to take over the role as #1 scorer next season. Hell, hopefully something clicks with Ross to take over as the #2 scorer this season.

Brutus's picture

Not inexcusable.  Disappointing, but not inexcusable. Kentucky is 10 months removed from a near perfect season and a national championship and currently unranked in a very weak conference. Even that isn't inexcusable, though it's close given were talking about Kentucky.  This team is obviously not as good as we would have liked.  Thomas is the only thing keeping us afloat.  The young players are either just not as good as they were billed or just not that good yet. I'm going with the latter.  I have no idea what next year holds, but I've seen enough to think that there is hope. With Deshaun gone, the team dynamic will be very different, much as it is this year with Sullinger gone.  We'll see.  On the bright side, I don't think we're at risk of losing anyone to the draft early for the next few years once Deshaun leaves. 

collards's picture

As I wrote after the MSU loss, these guys refuse to box out. I am glad that Jimmy Jackson called them on it. This team is weak and lack basic fundamentals. They go straight up for a rebound instead of putting a body on someone and last night it was sickening. Iowa had less gifted athletic bigs, but were way better coached in fundamentals. I, for one, am not happy with Matta's raise. The team often plays out of control. Last night the spacing was horrible and once again, way too mant to's.
Matta said the team was tired from working too hard. I saw little, if any, hard work under the boards in a game where it counts. What is wrong with the management here. You can't always have 5 star players, sometimes you have get the most out of 3 stars. Scott, the son of a good NBA player, was a McDonald's all-american. He is in his second year. While there has been some improvement, it is not what I expected from him. Same for Ross.
You might win a few at home (the UM game was great), but this is the BIG and if you hope to win on the road, or later in the season, you better get tuff. This team is weak.
Can someone teach anyone to box out. Can Thad get someone who doesn't want the highlite ESPN blocking a shot section and actually have the heart to rebound?
Charles Barkley said that any knucklehead can shoot, but it takes a basketball player to rebound.


Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

I disagree about Scott.  I think he's going to be great, but he's going to be a pure point guard, play awesome defense and distribute the ball after penetration and transition.  I also think Thompson is going to be very good and I do think he's working hard on his jump shot.  As far as I'm concerned, those two want to be better the most - they pass the eye test.  Ross and Williams are still young and we have to hope they improve for next year and they're still learning how to play at this level.  Smith, Craft, and Ravenel either did not improve much during the offseason or are better suited to be support players than shoulder players.  If the latter is the case, keep giving the ball to Sam Thompson, who is the only person on the team who will shoot the ball, everyone else is timid.

Read my entire screen name....

collards's picture

Usually by their second season, a McDonald's all-american is starring or at least starting. I think Scott has the potential, but he is not being developed. Thompson wants the highlight reel and he doesn't want to get in, box out and get the rebound. I believe there is more than offense in basketball. How many screens does thompson set? I don't blame the players. Most young players want to jack up 3's or jam one down. It is fundamental basketball that is missing. I have said that for years. Why don't these coaches teach them anymore. What gets recruits is the ability to come in and score, score, score. It takes a great coach to mold them into a team on both sides of the ball.  It takes a great coach to teach and expect fundamentals. Perhaps with the new contract, Thad can feel secure and require that of his players. I hope he can also teach them how to break a press without panicing. Inbounding is also a lost art.
There is little discipline in the half court game and in boxing out. That has to be taught and required. It takes a certain mindset in a kid to fit into that type of program.
Sure UK won with independent stars, but even with the top recruits can they do it every year.
Look at what Butler is doing by being a team and before that Princeton. Being a team is more than a handslap after a missed freethrow.
If Thad ever leaves, the bucks need an alum to sit on the selection committee. That would be Bobby Knight.
Not only has the 3 hurt basketball, but the one and done recruiting has as well.


Jack Fu's picture

In 17 minutes on the floor, Amir Williams grabbed zero rebounds. None. That's friggin' pathetic.
As a team, Iowa rebounded 49% of their missed shots. Any time the Hawkeyes missed a shot, they were as likely to get the rebound as OSU was. That's inexcusable.
Iowa was better than OSU at everything but shooting last night. They rebounded much better and they turned it over less frequently (OSU had turnovers on 21% of their possessions. That actually lowered OSU's turnover rate in the last five games down to 22%) If not for Iowa's piss-poor free throw shooting, the Buckeyes probably blow this one. Thankfully, they didn't.

IBleedSandG's picture

Couple of mind-blowing (in a horrible way) stats right there.
6'11'' and no rebounds, how is that even possible. I wish we could give Amir Lenzelle's rebounding prowess?


collards's picture

Williams is afraid to bang. Plain and simple. Bob Huggins used to have the football team put pads on and beat on the rebounders and lane drivers. Imagine John Simon in there with them. He used to have a lid on the basket so every shot in practice is a rebound.
Rebounding is a skill. You have to know weakside and strongside.  One just can't depend on height. We see that in the buck's game.


Clmm297's picture

Why is it bad coaching when players do not execute?  Unless you are at practices and in game huddles, you have no idea what is/is not being taught.  Bad game play is just that, bad game play.  If you want to assign blame, blame the players.  Matta hasn't appeared in a single game this year.  What you see on the floor is a failure by the players to execute, not a failure by Matta to prepare them. 

oregonianbuckeye's picture

1) Buckeyes played really well in the first half. Offense looked great, and Q really helped provide another spark.
2) Defense played really well in the first half as well. If we could rebound, we would have been up 20 at the half. 
3) The last ten minutes were painful. We played like we were trying not to lose. I'm not sure why Q was in as much as he was, as the Iowa press was bothering us. Q is not a great passer, and turned the ball over repeatedly (as did Craft). Why was Scott not in the game? If we have two point guards, and the other team is bothering us with the press, seems like he would have helped. I think Matta was worried about the 'hack a Scott.' 
4) This Iowa team is better than a lot of people give them credit for. They lost close to Indiana, and knocked off a hot Wisconsin team. 

IBleedSandG's picture

Still can't believe this game ended up as close as it did, but I guess that's what happens when you give up a ton of offensive rebounds and turn it over 17 times (that's got to be the highest number of turnovers in the last few years). Feel sorry for anyone who laid the points, the Bucks should have covered easily. Glad I stuck to the over, which covered by 1 pt. It felt like Iowa was intentionly missing free throws, the way they shot so poorly.


PhillyBuckeye27's picture

I don't want to be a negative nelly and I so want to keep believing what all the experts are saying about how great this team is but after watching for 18 games I think we just have to accept them for what they are.  They are a GREAT MAC team - but an average Big 10 team. 
To sum up the starting 5:
- Mr. Matta missed the boat on Mr. Burke and as a result, our second scorer is playing for TSUN.  Thompson can jump outta the gym but can do little else - and really all he wants to do is ally oop. 
- Amir was a high school all american cause he is 6'11 and has the wingspan of something like 7'6 - therefore he had to do little in high school to dominate! 
- Craft (while I love his heart) is making way too many silly plays (two turnovers back to back last night at a very critical point in the game) is innexcusable for a 3 yr starter! 
- Lenzelle actually played a decent game last night - up until then his play this season has been short of attrocious.  I have been critical of him this season - now Mr. Smith we need to see consistency!
- Thank goodness Mr. Thomas came back cause I don't see this team winning 20 w/out him.
Conclusion - we are the 6th best team in the conference (may sneak in to teh 4 or 5 spot depending on how scUM and Wisky finish).  We make tourney as a 6 or 7 seed and HOPEFULLY get in a bracket that we can win a couple games and get to the sweet 16.  I sure hope Loving and that kid from Balt can light it up next yr cause I really think winning 20 next yr is going to be a huge challenge unless we start improving quick....on the flipside of all of this, we are SPOILED fans and I would take these Matta yrs over the Eldon or Ayres yrs any day!  They may give me a coronary by seasons end but I will still cheer like heck for em!

Clmm297's picture

It's easy to say that Matta missed on Burke now.  You are evaluating him for what he is today, not what he was when he was a high school player.  Matta recruited and got (Shannon Scott) the higher rated recruit two years ago.  If Matta were able to use a crystal ball or some other magical powers to see the future, your criticism would be valid.  He can't predict the future any better than you.