Month by month, week by week, day by day, Ohio State just keeps getting better.
Chris Holtmann's team entered Thursday having won six of its past seven games, including three victories against teams ranked within the top-15 when the games tipped off, and it just secured its best win yet.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes waltzed into Iowa City, Iowa, for a top-10 matchup with the No. 8 Hawkeyes and won, 89-85, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They improved to 15-4 overall and 9-4 within the Big Ten.
|#7 OHIO STATE||42||47||89|
The game was tied 75-75 with 5:23 remaining, and from there Ohio State went on a 13-6 run sparked by three Justin Ahrens 3-pointers after he missed his first four of the night. The final Ahrens triple put the Buckeyes up 88-81 with 2:39 remaining. More than two scoreless minutes from Ohio State allowed Iowa to close the gap to 88-85 with 37 seconds remaining.
Four Buckeyes – E.J. Liddell (16 points), Kyle Young (16 points), Duane Washington Jr. (16 points) and Justice Sueing (12 points) – scored in double figures.
Iowa, behind an offense that ranks fourth-best in adjusted efficiency in the past two decades, threatened to pull away before the midpoint of the second half.
A pair of 3s from Joe Wieskamp and Luke Garza put Fran McCaffrey's team on top by 11 points with 14:29 remaining. At that point, the Buckeyes had only made one shot from the field since they left the locker room when halftime concluded. Yet back-to-back 3-pointers from Duane Washington – along with a Zed Key free throw – chopped the deficit to four points, and a subsequent 10-5 run put Ohio State up 67-66 with 10:12 to go. They traded blows the the rest of the night, responding quickly each time the opponent got something going offensively.
|31-65 (47.7%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||30-68 (44.1%)|
|14-32 (43.8%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||14-32 (43.8%)|
|13-19 (68.4%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||11-17 (64.7%)|
The first half between these two teams lived up to all expectations, especially offensively. They both shot at least 47 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range.
Back and forth they went, with Ohio State taking 20-12 lead after eight-and-a-half minutes passed behind six off-the-bench points from Zed Key. Yet a quick 10-0 Iowa run that concluded with Chris Holtmann calling a timeout after 71 seconds of action put the Hawkeyes up on top and set up a competitive stretch late in first half. Neither team had an edge greater than four points in the latter part of the opening half, and Iowa went into the locker room after 20 minutes maintaining a 45-42 advantage.
Three Iowa players – Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon and Jack Nunge – each scored 11 points in the first half. Bohannon and Nunge combined to make six 3s. One of the bigger boosts for the Hawkeyes was the difference in fouls. They drew nine fouls compared to only three drawn fouls by the Buckeyes in the first half. That led to a 10-to-2 free-throw discrepancy as the teams regrouped in their respective locker rooms.
The Buckeyes got 10 first-half points from Justice Sueing. Duane Washington Jr. and E.J. Liddell added seven apiece, too. Meechie Johnson's six points and Key's six also helped the Buckeyes offensively.
Next up: Ohio State goes to College Park, Maryland, on Monday for its only game against the Terrapins (10-8, 4-7 Big Ten) of the regular season. It'll tip off at 9 p.m. on FS1.
- Chris Holtmann stuck with his starting five: Duane Washington Jr., Justin Ahrens, Justice Sueing, E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young. CJ Walker continued to come off the bench.
- Ohio State was without two of its 13 scholarship players. Jimmy Sotos was ruled out for the season after tests on his shoulder separation showed he needs surgery, and Ibrahima Diallo remains out with a sprained MCL. Prior to the game, Holtmann referenced how he would have liked to have Diallo available for the matchup with Iowa's frontcourt.
- Iowa didn't have starting guard CJ Frederick at its disposal. The team's fourth-leading scorer (8.7 points per game) was ruled out with a lower-leg injury. He's a 50-percent 3-point shooter.
- This was Young's 100th career game as a Buckeye. The senior forward has averaged eight points and 5.9 rebounds in 19 minutes per game across his four-year career.
- The Buckeyes entered the day trailing 79-76 in the overall series with the Hawkeyes, and they were behind 51-25 coming into Thursday when playing in Iowa City.