By Pete Ruden
After competing with one of the best teams in the Big Ten on Tuesday, Iowa (12-15, 3-11 Big Ten) was back to its old ways on Feb. 10, suffering an 83-64 loss to No. 14 Ohio State (22-5, 13-1 Big Ten) in Columbus.
Things escalated quickly after Ohio State held a 10-point halftime lead. The Buckeyes used a 20-6 run after the break to leave the Hawkeyes in the dust.
“It’s a lot of different things,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We weren’t getting them back, we weren’t executing on offense, we weren’t getting our transition defense where it needed to be, and they were capitalizing. We weren’t connected.”
Three-pointers came easily for the home team, as Iowa failed to defend the deep ball once again. Ohio State hit 9 shots from behind the arc to bury the Hawkeyes and end any shot at a comeback.
The Buckeyes got out to their halftime lead by breaking Iowa’s back with second-chance points. The Hawkeyes, who are one of the best rebounding teams in the Big Ten, were outrebounded 33-29 and gave up 4 offensive boards in the first half.
It also didn’t help that Tyler Cook, Iowa’s leading scorer, only scored 4 points on two shot attempts in the first half, while committing two fouls and spending quite a while in pine time.
“A lot of teams are coming to double; they send some guys on him,” McCaffery said. “He’s an unselfish guy, so he’s going to move the ball. He took a couple perimeter shots. We tried to run some things for him, but they had it pretty jammed up in there.”
As expected, Keita Bates-Diop did work against the poor Hawkeye defense, dropping 14 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
Kaleb Wesson and C.J. Jackson got off to hot starts on their way to posting 18 and 14 points.
Iowa, on the other hand, was inconsistent from deep. It was a rare night in which the Hawkeyes — who rank fourth in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage — couldn’t get much to fall.
However, it was a good night for Jack Nunge, who had been inconsistent ever since getting pulled from the starting lineup earlier in the season.
The Newburgh, Indiana, native posted a career-high 18 points and had 5 rebounds in what was his first game in double figures since Iowa’s battle against Southern on Dec. 10.
“Nunge was great,” McCaffery said. “He was aggressive, he was physical. They came after him, and he’s been doing that lately. They put smaller, quicker guys underneath him, and he got low, and was strong, and tough, and made shots, and made plays in traffic.”
Point guard Jordan Bohannon added 11 points. He and Nunge were the only Hawkeyes in double figures.
Iowa’s 64 points is tied for the second-lowest mark it has posted in conference play this season.
Although the offense wasn’t at the usual Hawkeye level, the inconsistency of the defense still stuck out.
“You got to be able to defend on a consistent basis,” McCaffery said. “We’ve always been good in every game at times, in stretches, but not consistently. That’s really what it comes down to.”