(Photo courtesy of Iowa City Press-Citizen)
The Buckeyes headed to Iowa City Thursday evening and met up with Luka Garza who scored 24 points, for the 20th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa’s bench, too, should be noted with notable contributions in a 85-76 win over the 25th ranked Ohio State.
It was Garza’s 12th successive game of 20 points or more in Big Ten play – this streak is the longest streak for an Iowa player in 49 seasons and the most by any conference player in the last 20 years.
Bakari Evelyn came off the bench to score 15 points for the Hawkeyes. Joe Wieskamp had 13 points, and Ryan Kriener added 12.
The Hawkeyes (19-8, 10-6 Big Ten) opened the game with a 27-8 run in the first 10 minutes. Ohio State (17-9, 7-8) closed to within 43-35 with 41 seconds left in the first half, and was within nine points on three separate occasions early on in the second half before the Hawkeyes went on an 18-8 tear to jump the lead to 69-50 with 6:43 to play.
In Five days removed from posting their best defensive effectiveness number-wise in a Big Ten in more than two years, the Buckeyes (17-9, 7-8 Big Ten) finished with their second-worst mark of the season and their second-most points allowed.
“We just didn’t have enough (to win),” Holtmann said. “I don’t think you’re going to win on the road in this league, or at home for that matter, with a lack of bite that we had in the first five minutes. Deflections. Physicality defensively. Physicality into the ball. All of that. We didn’t have enough of that kind of activity.”
Honestly – the best the Buckeyes could do here in Iowa City was making it interesting, and at one point they had a chance to put a scare into the energetic crowd.
Correction – they actually had four such chances. After pulling within 51-42 on a CJ Walker three-pointer with 17:13 to play, the Buckeyes had four straight possessions with a chance to cut into the lead.
The Buckeyes fell short on each of them, missing four shots and committing three turnovers. Bakari Evelyn broke Iowa’s dry spell with a three-pointer to give the Hawkeyes (19-9, 10-6) a 12-point lead with 14:44 to play, and it proved too much — although a flurry of late baskets got the Buckeyes within seven.
“They’re a really good team,” Walker said. “We know they haven’t lost here since November, so we knew what they were capable of doing. They made shots early. They just did what they usually do.”
Freshman E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes, setting career highs with 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench. He scored six of Ohio State’s eight points during a first-half spurt, a stretch that included a fade-away jumper over Garza. Liddell had entered the game averaging 4.9 points in Big Ten play.
“I was just trying to play as hard as I can so we could win, but Iowa’s a really good team,” Liddell said. “They competed very well. We didn’t give them enough today and enough effort to win that game.”
Duane Washington Jr. added 15 points, scoring all of them in a five-minute stretch late in the second half. Garza led all scorers with 24.
The Buckeyes: The Ohio State University have won five of their last six games, and now lost a “some” energy heading into Sunday’s game with Big Ten leader Maryland.
What does it mean? The attitude show be geared towards a do or die mentality – something needs to change in the consistency of their play – or demeanor. The Buckeyes had moved into the AP poll this week after a four-week absence. This loss will undoubtedly drop them back out.
The Buckeyes play at home against Maryland on Sunday. A win is needed. And this is the showcase team to bring it onto.