Iowa Puts a Scare in No. 2 Ohio State

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Jan. 4, 2011

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IOWA CITY, Iowa —It goes down as a loss in the final statistics, but the Iowa men’s basketball team had No. 2 Ohio State on the ropes before falling 73-68 on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Some will say that it’s a moral victory for the Hawkeyes in staying within five points of the No. 2 ranked team in the land, playing the Buckeyes to their closest game of the season.

“You know, with the way I address that with the team was simply this; we’re not satisfied,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Am I proud of the effort? Absolutely. Did we get better tonight? We got better tonight. And we’re getting closer and closer to being where we have to be to where we can beat a team of this caliber. So from that standpoint, it’s good but we’re not satisfied.”

“Two games in a row we’ve been right there at home against two ranked teams” said junior Matt Gatens, who scored 14 points in 36 minutes. “We had a great shot at this team tonight. One little run there, we let them get away and we couldn’t come back at the end.”

Trailing by 10 points with four minutes to play, the Hawkeyes closed the gap to within three points (71-68) in the final minute behind timely three-pointers by Gatens and Zach McCabe. In the end, however, Iowa couldn’t overcome a 16-0 second half run that broke the game open.

“We’re up six at the half,” said Gatens. “Coach said, think how hard we worked for that six point lead, we have to come out in the second half and work even harder because they’re going to come after us. For about three minutes there they went on a little run, and it definitely hurt, and they went up 10. It’s tough to come back, 10 points against the No. 2 team in the nation. We fought and until the end, we were fighting.”

After trailing by six points at the break, Ohio State turned the table by feeding the ball into freshman Jared Sullinger, a potential one-and-done forward, who finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Sullinger scored six points in a 9-1 Ohio State run that turned its 35-29 deficit into a 38-36 lead.

After a Gatens three-pointer gave Iowa the 45-42 lead with 14:15 remaining, the Buckeyes took control of the game with the aforementioned 16-0 run over a nearly six minute span. Sullinger opened the spurt with back-to-back field goals and sharp shooter Jon Diebler nailed two straight long balls to give OSU the 58-45 lead with 8:38 remaining.

McCabe ended the Iowa scoring drought with a three-point play to get the deficit back to 10 (58-48). Two minutes later, Gatens made two straight field goals — a jumper and three-pointer — to make the score 62-54 with 5:06 to play.

Iowa came out clicking in the first half, as it jumped out to a 17-9 lead behind the play of freshman Melsahn Basabe. The freshman scored 10 of the Hawkeyes’ first 14 points, making his first three field goal attempts. Basabe finished the game with the best outing of his Iowa career, going for 22 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. It was his second career double-double.

After Ohio State evened the tally at 17, the Hawkeyes built their lead back to seven points on a Basabe jumper with 2:05 to go in the half. Sullinger, however, followed with a jumper and Dallas Lauderdale’s dunk trimmed the deficit to three with 39 seconds on the clock. Iowa held the ball for the final shot, where it worked the ball both inside-and-out to find a wide open Bryce Cartwright, who connected at the buzzer to give the Hawkeyes the 35-29 lead at the break.

The Hawkeyes (7-7, 0-2) will now hit the road looking for their first Big Ten win of the season. Iowa will square off against No. 10 Purdue on Sunday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind.

#2 Ohio State 73, Iowa 68 1st 2nd Final
#2 Ohio State (15-0, 2-0) 29 44 73
Iowa (7-7, 0-2) 35 33 68
Statistical Leaders
Points: Melsahn Basabe (UI) 22 | Jared Sullinger (OSU) 24
Rebounds: Melsahn Basabe (UI) 13 | Jared Sullinger (OSU) 12
Assists: Bryce Cartwright (UI) 8 | Aaron Craft (OSU) 7