Behind Sniper-Like Three-Point Shooting and Boisterous Bench Production, Ohio State Defeats Iowa to Advance in Big Ten Tournament, 90-78

By Andy Anders on March 14, 2024 at 8:37 pm

With a win necessary to keep the light of NCAA Tournament hopes alive on Thursday, Ohio State shot the daylights out of the basketball.

The Buckeyes lit up Iowa by going 11-of-20 (55%) from three with six different players canning at least one shot from outside.

#10 OHIO STATE 43 47 90
#7 IOWA 38 40 78

Ohio State (20-12, 10-11 Big Ten) used a monstrous, well-sourced offensive outing to pull away from Iowa (18-14, 10-11 Big Ten) and advance to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament with a 90-78 victory.

Four different Buckeyes hit double figures as their bench accounted for 37 points. Jamison Battle collected a team-high 23, all in the second half. Bruce Thornton added 14 points and a career-high nine assists, freshman Scotty Middleton got involved with 11 points and Roddy Gayle Jr. picked up 10.

The victory pushed Ohio State's winning streak to five games with six victories in seven games since interim head coach Jake Diebler took over the team.

Star guard Payton Sandfort picked up 19 points in a losing effort for Iowa.

First half

For the 79 points Iowa unfurled against Ohio State last time out and the 83.1 points the Hawkeyes scored per game entering Thursday, they came out slow on the offensive side.

Iowa came out shooting 1-of-6 from the field and Thornton nailed two threes off the dribble to spark an 8-0 run and put the Buckeyes up 10-2 early.

Sandfort came quick with an answer. Nailing two triples of his own, he catalyzed an 8-0 Iowa run that tied the game at 15 less than eight minutes into the action.

Both offenses were suddenly ablaze. Ohio State got much of its work done beyond the 3-point arc, with Middleton nailing two triples and Dale Bonner adding one of his own to push the Buckeyes' lead back to eight at 25-17.

After Iowa guard Josh Dix knocked one down from the outside, a dunk from Felix Okpara and a smooth mid-range jumper from Middleton off the dribble held things at 29-22 for Ohio State. 51 total points were already on the scoreboard entering the under-eight media timeout of the first half.

Zed Key pushed the Buckeyes' lead to nine and Iowa countered with a 6-0 run, but three-point plays kept pouring in for Ohio State. Gayle finished one the old-fashioned way, then Taison Chatman rattled one home from outside before Gayle landed his own outside make and the Buckeyes led 40-33 with under four minutes left in the half.

Iowa answered with a 6-0 run but another Middleton triple made it 43-38 Ohio State at intermission. Of those 43 points, 23 came from the Buckeyes’ bench. OSU shot a blistering 8-of-11 from three to counter Iowa's 5-of-9.

Second half

90 POINTS 78
31-60 (51.7%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 26-62 (41.9%)
11-20 (55.0%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 8-21 (38.1%)
17-26 (65.4%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 18-27 (66.7%)

Both sides' hot perimeter shooting didn't cool off to start the second period.

Jamison Battle canned his first three of the game and a Thornton tiple followed, making Ohio State 10-of-13 from outside to start the game. But two triples from Sandfort cut the lead right back to three points at 51-48.

Once more, the answer was swift from the Buckeyes, with Devin Royal putting up four points to support an 8-2 run that made it a 59-50 ballgame. Ohio State hit the bonus for the second half with more than 12 minutes to play, furthering Iowa's dilemma as eight of the Buckeyes' first 20 second-period points came at the line. 

A crazy sequence that saw both teams exchange possessions three times found the ball in Key's hands for an open layup, putting the Buckeyes ahead by double-digits for the first time at 67-56 with 10:54 to play.

As Iowa kept collecting buckets to try and cut into the lead, Battle's second-half explosion continued.

He stuck back an offensive rebound with a foul to convert a three-point play, then nailed a triple from the left corner to make it 17 points in 11 minutes of second-half game time after a scoreless first half. Ohio State led 73-62 as the clock wound under nine minutes remaining.

Thornton strung four points together to maintain the edge at 77-65, and when Iowa cut it back to single digits, a Thornton free throw and Battle layup made the edge 80-70 once more.

A Royal dunk made it an 82-72 contest with less than three minutes to play and Iowa never cut the lead back to single digits.

What's next

Ohio State takes on second-seeded No. 13 Illinois in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.

Game notes

  • After shooting 15-of-42 (35.7%) from 3-point range under Chris Holtmann, Middleton is 12-of-19 (63.2%) in seven games with Diebler.
  • Felix Okpara now has 38 consecutive games with a block for the Buckeyes.
  • Battle's 23 second-half points were tied for the most by an Ohio State player in a half this season.
  • Ohio State has pulled even in its all-time series with Iowa at 85-85.
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