Thad Matta's Buckeyes stomped on 11 cupcakes during the non-conference slate but started slow against the two elite teams on the schedule, Louisville and North Carolina, and could never recover in convincing losses.
The hope was that the squad would learn from the disappointing losses but that's not the case at least just yet as Ohio State again started in a funk and fell into an early 17-5 hole before losing to Iowa, 71-65, this afternoon in the Schott.
The loss marked Matta's first in a B1G opener at home (5-1) and his just his third during his tenure at Ohio State (8-3).
The Hawkeyes were just 9-4 entering league play but the record wasn't indicative of the talent level as Iowa scheduled and lost to legit teams in Texas, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Syracuse while beating North Carolina in the ACC/B1G Challenge.
Ohio State again tried to dig out of the early hole using a 16-7 run to cut Iowa's lead to 24-21 midway through the 1st half but a lack of both defensive focus and offensive aggressiveness allowed the Hawkeyes to take a 43-31 lead at the the break.
Iowa posted a 9-2 edge in 2nd chance points in the opening 20 minutes thanks to an 8-3 edge in offensive rebounds (19-11 overall) and held a 10-3 edge in points from the stripe as Ohio State was all too content to settle for jump shots.
Trailing 57-45 with just under 10 minutes left in the game, Ohio State offered one last push via a 15-8 run sparked by D'Angelo Russell and Marc Loving cutting Iowa's lead to 63-60 but that's as close as they would get thanks to sloppy play and continued rebounding woes.
Sam Thompson led the Buckeyes with 17 points on 6/11 shooting and Russell added 13 but he shot just 4/16 in 32 foul-plagued minutes.
Loving was the only other Buckeye in double figures with 10 and he also led the team with six boards but Ohio State finished -14 when he was on the floor, the lowest plus/minus of any Buckeye on the day.
Amir Williams added nine points, five boards and two blocks in 32 minutes with Shannon Scott adding a lackluster six points and six assists on 2/7 shooting.
It's a long season but Thompson, Matta and company were visibly frustrated after the game. Thompson was not pleased with the team's defensive effort. "We let them dictate what they wanted to do offensively," Thompson said, "that's on us as players. For whatever reason, we were not able to get off to a fast start. Trying to make a miraculous comeback doesn't work. We've got to come out with more fire, more juice."
Though Matta's 2-3 zone was again ineffective and he even resorted to man at times down the stretch, he made it clear he doesn't have plans to abandon the zone. Because of a lack of energy, Matta insisted it wouldn't have mattered what defense the Buckeyes were playing. "No matter what defense we were playing, even if we had six guys, it wouldn't have mattered today. We competed harder yesterday in practice."
Ohio State was outrebounded 37-29, allowed 13 second-chance points and 46% from the field but it was the timeliness of many of the boards and putbacks that hurt the Buckeyes.