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No. 9 Ohio State 89, No. 8 Iowa 85: Here's what we learned

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The lead changed 18 times in the first 36 minutes of Thursday's top-10 showdown at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but Ohio State controlled the final four to pull out an 89-85 win over Iowa.

The Hawkeyes went 3 minutes and 41 seconds between baskets, a drought exacerbated by poor perimeter defense and rebounding.

It was the third loss in four games for No. 8 Iowa (13-5, 7-4 Big Ten Conference), which is finding that this league is unforgiving when you don't get needed stops. The Hawkeyes let an 11-point lead slip away.

Ninth-ranked Ohio State (15-4, 9-4) made 8 of 17 3-point shots in the second half, including three in succession late that turned the tide. It was the Buckeyes' fourth consecutive win. The teams meet again in Columbus on Feb. 28.

The Hawkeyes had four players score at least 16 points, but center Luka Garza, the nation's leading scorer at 26.4 per game, went just 2-for-8 after halftime as the Buckeyes swarmed him in the paint.

Iowa's Joe Wieskamp (10) makes a basket as Ohio State forward Zed Key (23) defends during a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Here's what we learned:

Joe Wieskamp responds to benching

Iowa junior wing player Joe Wieskamp was among the starters who found themselves on the bench for large stretches of Tuesday's 84-78 win against Michigan State. Reserve players came on to help Luka Garza win that one, and Wieskamp evidently got the message that playing time is earned on a game-by-game basis.

On Thursday, Wieskamp made a big impact on both ends of the court, grabbing nine defensive rebounds and making 4 of 8 3-point attempts to finish with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. He played with confidence and control, something the Hawkeyes need from the three-year starter.

Jack Nunge finding his 3-point stroke

For years, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery and his players have been touting the offensive talent of Jack Nunge. They’ve seen him dominate at times in practice sessions. Nunge, a 6-foot-11 forward, who missed most of the last two seasons, looks to be living up to that praise in recent games.

He went 2-for-4 from the 3-point arc in his first game this season, against Western Illinois, then made just five of his next 25. But he’s a better shooter than that, and is making opponents pay this week. Nunge sank both of his 3-point attempts in Tuesday’s win over Michigan State. He then hit his first three Thursday against Ohio State.

Few teams can contend with that kind of length at the arc, meaning Nunge can become an elite weapon for the Hawkeyes. He had 11 points at halftime, in just 9 minutes of play. In the second half, Nunge got more attention at the arc and tried to drive on two occasions, both unsuccessful, so he still has work to do on that front.

Little separates two top-10 teams

Iowa led 45-42 after a wonderful first half of basketball by both teams. There was little separation on the scoreboard, or in most statistical categories. Each team had just three turnovers. Rebounds were even at 19 apiece. Iowa had 15 points off the bench; Ohio State had 14. But there were nine fouls whistled against the Buckeyes, as opposed to three on the Hawkeyes, a point Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann seemed to be driving home to the officials as he walked to the locker room. And Iowa was able to break loose for eight fast-break points, to zero for Ohio State.

That was an advantage the Hawkeyes tried to push, and it worked most spectacularly when Patrick McCaffery stole the ball and dribbled through two Buckeyes for a resounding dunk that brought the sparse gathering of Hawkeye family members to their feet. That was as loud as it’s been in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season.

Iowa next plays at Indiana at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at memmert@registermedia.com or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.