By RICK BROWN
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State broke open a competitive game with an 18-2 run early in the second half and defeated Iowa Saturday, 82-64, before the first sellout crowd of the season at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
After Iowa forward Ahmad Wagner’s drive and basket cut the No. 14/16 Buckeyes’ lead to 44-36, with 18 minutes 25 seconds to play, Ohio State answered with an 18-2 run in just 5 minutes to put the game away.
The Buckeyes’ victory, coupled with Michigan State’s 68-65 victory over visiting Purdue, gives Ohio State the outright Big Ten lead at 13-1. The Buckeyes improved to 22-5 overall. Iowa, who has won at least 10 league games in each of the past three seasons, dropped to 3-11 in Big Ten play and 12-15 overall.
The Hawkeyes had an 18-15 lead in the first half after Tyler Cook’s 51st dunk of the season. But Ohio State responded with an 8-0 run and never trailed again.
One bright spot in the loss was Iowa freshman forward Jack Nunge, who scored a career-high 18 points.
“I thought he was terrific,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said.
Point guard Jordan Bohannon was the only other Hawkeye to reach double figures with 11 points.
Center Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with 18 points, one of five in double figures. Keita Bates-Diop and C.J. Jackson added 14 apiece, Jae-Sean Tate had 11 and Micah Potter 10. Ohio State also had five players score in double figures in the first meeting of the season, a 92-81 Buckeye victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 4.
NUNGE STEPS UP
Nunge’s 18 points, in 21 minutes, were a career high. He made six of 12 shots from the floor, including a three-pointer in four tries, and made all five of his free-throw attempts.
“It’s been coming,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He was aggressive, he was physical.”
The previous scoring high for the rookie forward from Newburgh, Ind., had been 17 points against Grambling on Nov. 16. Nunge’s previous career best in a Big Ten game was 12 at Indiana on Dec. 4. Nunge’s five rebounds were the most he’s had in a game since he had eight at Iowa State on Dec. 7.
Iowa got to the free-throw line just 10 times. Nunge attempted half of them. Bohannon, who has made 30 consecutive free throws, didn’t attempt one for the third straight game. The school record for consecutive made free throws is 34 by the late Chris Street during the 1992-93 season.
Iowa remains on the road, facing No. 20 Michigan Wednesday at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The game, televised by the Big Ten Network, tips at 5:30 p.m. The Wolverines won this season’s first meeting on Jan. 2 in Iowa City, 75-68, snapping a five-game losing streak in the series. The Hawkeyes have won two straight games in Ann Arbor.