What went wrong in Iowa basketball's 93-77 loss to Ohio State? Let's examine a few areas.

Kennington Lloyd Smith III
Des Moines Register

COLUMBUS, Ohio − The Iowa men's basketball team's momentum over the last two weeks came to a halt on Saturday with its 93-77 loss at Ohio State. A two-point game at halftime quickly went sideways in the second half when Ohio Sate opened on a 16-4 run and carried that momentum to the final buzzer.

It's worth noting that Saturday was Iowa's first game this week after Wednesday night's scheduled game against Northwestern was postponed. How much did that affect Saturday's performance? Coach Fran McCaffery and players said postgame that it didn't have much impact in their preparation, but it was clear that the effort and energy levels weren't where they needed to be.

"We have to take a professional approach," center Filip Rebraca said. "We can't let that affect us like this. Maybe it did but that's unacceptable. Delays happen, cancellations happen, we just have to get over it and prepare for the next opponent, and I don't think we did that really well."

Rebraca pointed to a "road warrior mentality" that's needed in order to win away from home in the Big Ten. And on Saturday, Iowa (12-7, 4-4 in Big Ten) didn't have it. An uncharacteristic effort on both sides of the court poses the question: What went wrong for the Hawkeyes against Ohio State?

Let's examine the areas of concern:

Poor offensive execution set the tone early

Iowa's offense wasn't in sync from the opening tip, and it cost the Hawkeyes a chance to build an early lead. Both teams exchanged three turnovers apiece in the opening two minutes of play. By the end of the first half, Iowa accumulated nine turnovers. To put that into perspective, the team averages 10 per game.

That metric improved in the second half but 14 total turnovers was too many on Saturday.

"It was unacceptable," coach Fran McCaffery said. "Give Ohio State credit, but you can't turn it over 14 times on the road and expect to win."

The Hawkeyes were able to force eight Ohio State turnovers in the first half but weren't able to convert them on the other end, scoring just four points off turnovers. The pace favored Iowa as it won the first-half rebounding battle and played in transition off of Ohio State misses but seven unforced turnovers indicated something was off, Rebraca said.

"I'm not sure what it was," Rebraca said. "Maybe just a week without basketball, but I feel like we were a little tense and not in the flow of things, a bit jittery. Me especially, I had four turnovers in the first half, so just need to do a better job of keeping focus and remaining calm."

Into the second half, Iowa's normal ball movement wasn't on display as the team resorted to some quick shooting in order to counteract Ohio State's runs. The team shot 48% from the field in the second half, an acceptable number, but poor shot selection (and poor defense) prevented Iowa from cutting into the deficit when it had opportunities.

"You want to go (with a quick pace), that's how we play," McCaffery said. "But the ability to get a good shot, to make sure we have someone to get a rebound ... we cut it to eight points a number of times but couldn't get the stop or two we needed. I think we had guys that were trying to be aggressive and maybe weren't when they shouldn't have. But I think we'll learn form it."

Breakdowns defensively and on the boards cost Iowa dearly

Offensive miscues aside, a poor defensive effort was the catalyst in Saturday's loss. Iowa, which entered Saturday's game ranked last in the Big Ten in points allowed (72 per game), gave up its highest point total of the season, including 56 points in the second half. Ohio State was averaging just 67 points during its five-game losing streak.

The issue was compounded by a poor second-half rebounding effort. Ohio State shot 22-of-34 from the field in the second half and recorded eight offensive rebounds off its misses, resulting in second-chance opportunities.

"Very poor performance defensively and on the glass," McCaffery said. "They didn't miss many shots and when they did, they got them back. That makes it really hard to win."

The issues began early as poor defensive rotations and effort resulted in open looks by Ohio State on the perimeter. The Buckeyes started slow offensively, shooting 2-of-7, but caught their stride as the game continued. They shot 47% from the field in the first half and began the second half converting six straight shots. Problems on the perimeter translated into issues in dribble-drive situations as Ohio State totaled 50 points in the paint.

"Shooters were open, they had open lanes to the basket," Kris Murray said. "Our rotations need to be better, especially in the first half. Our rotations and communication needs to be better. We had two guys guarding one a lot of the time."

When asked how the team can improve before Thursday's game at Michigan State, Rebraca pointed to better attention to detail in the scouting report. Too many key players on Ohio State's roster played to their strengths on Saturday, which allowed the Buckeyes to end their losing streak.

Iowa men's basketball's four-game winning streak ended on Saturday with a 93-77 loss to Ohio State.

Iowa is entering a critical stretch in late January and early February, with key matchups that will determine Big Ten and NCAA Tournament seeding. McCaffery said the team is better than how it performed Saturday, but at 4-4 in conference play the Hawkeyes need to re-calibrate quickly.

"We got big games right after each other," Murray said. "We're 4-4 in the Big Ten, obviously we'd like to be better than that but we have a big one next week and we'll be ready for it."