Buckeyes roll over Black and Gold

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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For the first time in 30 games, the No. 17 Iowa basketball team (17-6, 6-4 Big Ten) dropped a game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena against an unranked foe. This time it was Ohio State (18-5, 5-5) that handed the normally solid-at-home Hawkeyes a loss, 76-69.

Things felt a little bit goofy from the start, in which the two squads combined for just 26 points under the 10 minute mark of the first half. Iowa and Ohio State turned the ball over 15 times between them in the first frame, and both shot under 50 percent from the field.

“I feel like it took us a second to get into the rhythm,” Iowa senior Devyn Marble said after the game. “I couldn’t tell you why. It’s one of those things you have find your way around. You have to get yourself going and make some plays.”

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Iowa had few guys that could make plays throughout the entire game. The squad shot a collective 3-of-20 from 3-point range, and the rock never connected when the Hawkeyes needed it most.

Ohio State did appear to have Iowa on the ropes early on, leading 26-17, but the Hawkeyes ended the first half on a 14-5 run, capped by an electric Aaron White dunk. That turned out to be the last time Iowa led.

The Buckeyes dominated the second half and exploited all the weaknesses of a team that came back from down 10 points and beat them in Columbus on Jan. 12, when Ohio State was the No. 3- team in the country. Since then, Ohio State has gone 3-3 in its conference games and has won back-to-back contests on the road against ranked foes: Iowa and at then-No. 14 Wisconsin on Feb. 1.

“You have to be respectful of who this team is,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said after the game. “They were ranked third a minute ago in the country. I mean, they came into the season expecting to win a national championship. They were in the final eight last year … we don’t want to get carried away here. We lost to a real good team and didn’t feel like we played our best. Give them credit for having a lot to with that.”

Mike Gesell led Iowa with a quiet 16 points on the night, but even he was shaky at times, shooting 1-of-4 from long range and missing the front end of a 1 and 1 with 2:43 left to play, when Iowa was down 7.

“They came in with a very good game plan,” Gesell said. “Came out with a few new sets they weren’t running the first time we played them. We didn’t do a good enough job on our 1-1 defense. We were letting guys drive right by us.”

But still, it’s not any one player’s fault Iowa missed 17 of its 20 3-point shots, or that it let Aaron Craft collect 6 steals while dropping 17 points of his own for Ohio State. Iowa had just 3 steals combined and shot 12-of-19 from the free-throw line.

“It’s a couple of guys missing one here, one there, a couple guys missing two … We made them Saturday; we didn’t make them tonight,” McCaffery said.

Iowa hasn’t lost two games in a row this season, which is a good sign — Big Ten leader Michigan will come to town this weekend. A chance at a Big Ten regular-season title is still possible but not with a loss to the Wolverines on Saturday. Marble said he thinks all the mistakes he saw from his team against Ohio State are fixable. Michigan will put his word on the spot.

“[Ohio State] got a couple of buckets late in the shot clock that we played pretty good defense until the last couple of seconds,” Marble said. “That can take the wind out of you when you let up too many of those buckets.

“All our mistakes tonight were easily fixable and correctable. I didn’t see anything that would alarm me.”

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