Dec. 31, 2008
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by Sean Neugent
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Big Ten Conference basketball has returned in nail-biting fashion as the University of Iowa men’s basketball team gave No. 23 Ohio State all it could handle before falling short, 68-65 inside Value City Arena.
Iowa is 10-4 overall, 0-1 in the league; Ohio State improved to 10-1, 1-0.
The Hawkeyes were on fire all game shooting 23 of 44 (52.2 percent) from the floor and 14 of 28 (50 percent) from three-point range. They also had 16 assists with 14 turnovers. Ohio State shot just as well, making an identical 23 of 44 from the field and 9 of 15 (60 percent) from long range.
UI freshman Matt Gatens exploded for 22 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point land and he also had the team-high in rebounds with five. Junior Devan Bawinkel added a career-high 15 points off the bench — all coming from three-point range finish, where he finished 5 of 8. Sophomore Jake Kelly had 11 points and sophomore Jeff Peterson added nine points and eight assists.
“Bawinkel is a very good shooter,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “The thing about Devan is he is not going to be your defensive stopper, but he is very conscientious in the right possession on defense and he can stay solid. So far, he takes care of the basketball. He gives you great minutes off the bench.”
The Buckeyes got off to an 8-0 lead before Kelly nailed a triple for the Hawkeyes’ first points. With 14:31 left in the half Kelly hit from behind the perimeter again to trail Ohio State, 11-6. After two turnovers, Kelly assisted junior Jermain Davis for another three-point field goal to cut the deficit to 15-9.
The Hawkeyes found themselves in trouble early when senior Cyrus Tate was whistled for his third personal foul with 11:53 remaining in the first half.
The three-point weapon continued to be a hot commodity for the UI when Peterson hit the long range jumper to trail 17-12.
The Buckeyes took off from there with Iowa turning the ball over and fouling in excess as Ohio State took control, 30-15. Iowa had 12 of its 22 fouls in the first half, giving the Buckeyes 14 free throw attempts and the Hawkeyes were unable to get to the charity stripe themselves. They also had 11 turnovers in the half and Ohio State took advantage scoring 17 points off turnovers.
With 3:56 left in the half, Gatens hit the Hawkeyes’ first points inside the three-point line before he converted Iowa’s seventh and eighth treys of the game on the next two possessions to make it 30-26. Ohio State’s William Buford followed Gatens with one of his own. Iowa went into intermission trailing by eight at 36-28.
“I thought the difference was our approach, our demeanor in the first half,” Lickliter said. “I thought we got deflated in the first half, but not to the point that we caved. In the second we went in there and stood toe-to-toe with them for the most part.”
“I thought the difference was our approach, our demeanor in the first half. I thought we got deflated in the first half, but not to the point that we caved. In the second we went in there and stood toe-to-toe with them for the most part.”
UI head coach
“We hit a couple shots and we realized that we can play with these guys and beat these guys — we can beat teams like this,” Gatens said. “We need to come out with that type of mentality and get going that way. Right from the tipoff we need to have the mentality that we can win this game, we can win the next game, we can win any game out there in this Big Ten.”
The Hawkeyes started the second half off red hot with back-to-back buckets by Gatens and Tate to pull within 36-32. Gatens proceeded to drill back-to-back triples to knot up the game at 38-38 with 15:58 remaining.
The Buckeyes regained the lead with seven quick points before Peterson hit a short-range jumper and Gatens followed that with a layup for a 45-42 Ohio State lead. Bawinkel hit his third trey of the game to tie it back up before Peterson fed him again for another deep-ball for the Hawkeyes first lead of the game.
“In the second-half, I thought our demeanor was much better,” Lickliter said. “It wasn’t perfect, but we moved to the next play which was huge. We didn’t get deflated when things didn’t go right.”
Ohio State’s B.J. Mullens gave the Buckeyes a three-point advantage before Peterson hit two from the charity stripe to pull the Hawkeyes within one. Thrifty ball work gave Iowa the lead when it was able to get the ball inside to Gatens for an uncontested dunk before Ohio State regained the edge with a trey before Iowa followed it up with one of its own. A three-pointer by Kelly gave the Hawkeyes their final lead with 3:17 to play.
Iowa and Ohio State continued to swap leads before the Hawkeyes gave Kelly an open-look three-pointer with 32 seconds remaining as it hit the rim and bounced off. The Hawkeyes fouled Jon Diebler who gave the Hawkeyes life when he made only one of two from the charity stripe to give the Buckeyes a three-point advantage, 68-65, with 20.7 seconds remaining. Iowa put the ball into the hands of Gatens, who mis-fired a three to end the game.
“We were just trying to get some rotation and we had Matt (Gatens) in the middle,” Lickliter said. “We were going to try and take it to the basket if we could, but he didn’t feel like he had that, so he stepped back out. Matt shot it well and it was a good look. I thought Jake Kelly’s was a great look and Cyrus Tate had his hand on it for a tip-in that would have tied it, so we had opportunities down the stretch. It wasn’t those situations that got us in trouble — it was the first half.”
“I thought we definitely got off to a slow start,” Gatens said. “We fought back pretty hard late in the first half and the second half we played right with them. We had a chance to win the game and it’s disappointing to let it go like that because we had the lead right there at the end. It would have been great to get this first win under our belt against a quality team like Ohio State, but it’s disappointing and we have to go back to work.”
The Hawkeyes look to start the New Year off with a showdown against Indiana on Saturday, Jan. 3, with a 3:35 p.m. tipoff inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.