COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time in a long time, an Iowa basketball game didn’t come down to the final seconds.
And on this night, that wasn’t a good thing for the Hawkeyes.
Ohio State, one of the most offensively challenged teams in the Big Ten Conference, did just about whatever it wanted on Tuesday on the way to a 90-70 victory against the 21st-ranked Hawkeyes.
The Buckeyes were averaging 63.7 points in conference games, better than only Indiana and Northwestern. They had that many with 10½ minutes to go at Value City Arena against a scrambling Hawkeye defense that gave up 3-pointers as readily as lay-ups.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was so fed up with the defense his starters were playing to start the second half, he called timeout and benched four of them.
The backups weren’t much better. Ohio State scored 22 points during one stretch of nine possessions to pull away. The lead grew to 74-56 with 8:41 to play.
Iowa got no closer than 11 points from there. The Hawkeye frustration culminated with two McCaffery technicals — the first on the coach's son, Connor, then on Fran himself in a span of 58 seconds, for disputing calls.
Freshman Joe Wieskamp wound up as Iowa's leading scorer, with 17 points. Tyler Cook added 12 points and 10 rebounds for his 15th career double-double.
A first half of streaks left anybody guessing how this would turn out.
Iowa went first, bolting to a 7-0 lead in the opening 2:15. Then, for the next eight-plus minutes, no Hawkeye except Ryan Kriener would score. Ohio State took a 19-13 advantage during that stretch.
With his team holding a 22-18 lead during a timeout, Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann was assessed a technical foul for complaining about officiating. That sent the Hawkeyes into a rhythm in which they scored 13 points on five trips down the floor — four by Jordan Bohannon on the post-technical possession, four by Maishe Dailey on two acrobatic lay-ups, two on a Cook tip-in and three on a top-of-the-key shot from Nicholas Baer.
Iowa was suddenly in charge, 31-25.
Then, another turning point. A poor pass by Cook turned into a fast-break lay-in by Justin Ahrens — who was intentionally fouled by Baer, giving the Buckeyes extra free throws. That play with 2:29 left keyed an 11-2 run that pushed Ohio State ahead, 36-33, at halftime.
For the game, Ohio State got 18 points and 11 rebounds from space-eater Kaleb Wesson. The 270-pound sophomore scored just two points with five turnovers in a 72-62 loss Jan. 12 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Ahrens led the Buckeyes with 29 points, 25 of them coming after halftime on 6-of-7 accuracy from 3-point land.
Ohio State needed this one. The Buckeyes had steadily lost NCAA Tournament clout after their 12-1 start, but successfully rallied the troops here Tuesday. They’re now 18-10 overall, 8-9 in the Big Ten after grabbing what will count for a Quadrant 1 win if Iowa stays in the top 30 of the NCAA NET rankings. (Iowa was 30th entering the night.)
The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, lost for just the second time in their last six road games. All seven losses for Iowa (21-7, 10-7) have been of the Quadrant 1 variety. (A road loss to a top-75 NET team — Ohio State was No. 42 — counts as Q1.) This won't impact their NCAA chances much, if at all.
But Iowa does need to bounce back when it returns to action at 4 p.m. Saturday against Rutgers; that'll be the home finale.