COLUMBUS, Ohio — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team led virtually wire-to-wire in posting its second road victory over a top-25 foe, downing No. 18/21 Ohio State, 71-65, Tuesday at Value City Arena in its Big Ten Conference opener.
The win was Iowa’s second-straight in Columbus — a feat that hasn’t happened for the Hawkeyes for more than a decade (Feb. 2003, Feb. 2004). The Hawkeyes beat the then third-ranked Buckeyes, 84-74, last season.
Iowa controlled the game, leading for more than 39 minutes and led by as many as 12 points at various points throughout the game. The Hawkeyes maintained a comfortable advantage for much of the second half and led 61-52 with 5:42 left before holding off a late Buckeye charge that closed the gap to a one possession game with 3:35 left.
“We wanted to play with some toughness and execute,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Toughness is being able to play through a run, and deal with the crowd. When (D’Angelo) Russell hit that 3-pointer to cut it to three, somebody has to make a play.
“(Josh) Oglesby was phenomenal, we got a stop, and Jarrod (Uthoff) hits the 3-pointer from the corner. That’s what good teams do… you make plays then.”
After D’Angelo Russell’s 3-pointer trimmed the Ohio State deficit to 63-60 with 3:25 play, Iowa had an answer. Senior Josh Oglesby sank a dribble pull-up to make the score 65-60 before grabbing a key defensive rebound on a Russell miss on a 3-point attempt.
The Hawkeyes then went to work against the zone going inside to senior Aaron White, who kicked it to junior Jarrod Uthoff for a 3-pointer in the corner — a triple that gave the Hawkeyes a 68-60 advantage with 2:19 to play.
“Josh made some big plays,” said Uthoff. “If he didn’t make that dribble pull-up, I don’t know if we would have won this game. That was a big shot by him; his rebound was huge, too. He made some big plays, and I am happy for him.”
Iowa finished with a 46 percent field goal percentage, making 23-of-50 shot attempts, while Ohio State shot at a 42.1 percent clip. The Hawkeyes made eight 3-pointers in 22 attempts and went 17-of-23 from the free throw stripe; the Buckeyes went 6-of-24 from long range and made 11-of-15 free throws.
The Hawkeyes controlled the action on the glass, out-rebounding Ohio State, 37-29, which included 15 offensive rebounds, leading to 13 second chance points. Iowa picked apart the Buckeye zone, moving the ball inside and out, leading to 17 assists on its 23 field goals.
“We came in with an aggressive mindset from the get-go on both ends of the floor,” said Uthoff. “That’s the way we need to play all the time, and that’s why we won the game. We hit the offensive boards, got to the rim, and hit our free throws.”
Uthoff and White led the team in scoring, netting 18 points apiece. Uthoff made 6-of-11 field goals, including a career-high four 3-pointers, and had seven rebounds and a career-best five assists. White went 5-of-10 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the free throw line and had a team-high nine rebounds.
Seniors Gabriel Olaseni and Oglesby provided a spark off the bench, both contributing eight points. Eight Hawkeyes scored and six players had at least two assists.
Sam Thompson led a trio of Buckeyes in scoring, finishing with 17 points. Russell scored 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and Marc Loving added 10 points.
After taking a 43-31 lead into the half, Iowa withstood a 7-2 Ohio State run to start the second half before junior Mike Gesellscored five straight on a 3-pointer and jumper to make the score 50-38 with 14:58 to play. Iowa also led by 12 points (57-45) with 9:33 remaining.
The Hawkeyes got off a strong start, attacking the Buckeye zone early with success. Ohio State jumped out to a 3-2 lead to start the game for its only lead before the Hawkeyes followed with eight-straight and 13-of-15 points to take a 15-5 lead and force a Buckeye timeout at the 16:32 mark.
Iowa scored on 11 of its first 13 possessions, and it didn’t miss its first shot until the 14:47 mark.
“We started the game well, which is critical when you go on the road,” said McCaffery. “For the most part we maintained our composure. We had a couple of goofy turnovers, but we fought hard.”
After a pair of White free throws pushed the Iowa lead to 17-5 four minutes in, Ohio State fought back, using a 14-5 run to trim their deficit to 22-19 on a Russell dunk at the 11:22 mark. With the score 31-26, Iowa closed out the half strong, scoring 12 of the final 17 points to take a 43-31 advantage into the locker room.
The Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-0) return to action Jan. 5, hosting Nebraska at 8 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“We beat a ranked team on the road, led wire-to-wire, and fought when we had to fight,” said McCaffery. “If you’re going to be a good team in this league and be an NCAA Tournament team, that’s what you have to do. We have to do it again and again (in Big Ten play).”