OHIO STATE 76, IOWA 69: ICE, ICE BABY

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

Brother, can you spare a three-pointer?

45.0%

15.0%

63.2%

47.5%

Those numbers would be Iowa's field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and effective field goal percentage, respectively.  Would it surprise you to learn that those are not exactly winning numbers? No, it probably would not.

Iowa did one thing well in the game: dominated the glass.  They outrebounded OSU 38-25, with a whopping 15-4 edge on the offensive glass (which led to a big advantage for Iowa in second-chance points, too).  Iowa's edge in rebounding and second-chance points was negated by Ohio State's strong outside shooting (7/16) and transition points (I haven't seen exact stats anywhere, but they seemed to have a lot).  Many of those transition points came off Iowa's 13 turnovers.  Ohio State also had 13 turnovers, but they did a far better job than Iowa of turning the other team's gaffes into points of their own -- probably because they had ten freaking steals, which led to lots of fast break opportunities.

Free throw shooting, which has been Iowa's balm during rough shooting nights at other points in the last few years, was no cure for the Hawkeyes tonight, either.  Ohio State made as many freebies (19/24) as Iowa attempted (12/19), although that figure was also inflated by the end of game situation, which had Iowa sending Ohio State to the line repeatedly in an attempt to extend the game.  But yeah: 12/19.  That's not getting to the line nearly enough (Iowa averages around 30 trips to the charity stripe per game) and it's certainly not converting well enough when you do get there.  The inability to get to the line was especially irritating since Iowa was in the bonus with over nine minutes to go in the second half.

In terms of individual performances, Mike Gesell led Iowa in scoring (16 points on 7/11 shooting, including 6/7 from inside the arc), despite missing an enormous chunk of the second half after picking up his third foul early in the half.  Which... obviously it's easy to second-guess after the game and play Captain Hindsight, but it was still frustrating to watch Gesell sit and sit and sit and sit, while Iowa's offense continued to look anemic.  Gesell was one of Iowa's only reliable offensive sparkplugs in this game and he had great success getting into the paint (and finishing); without him, the offense really struggled.  Gabe Olaseni continued his hot streak of performances with 14 points (on 5/5 field goal shooting and 4/4 free throw shooting) and 6 rebounds and 2 blocks (and 2 assists!).  He was excellent, although he did have a costly flagrant foul in the second half.

Unfortunately, in the guys who were not awesome department... remember how good Marble was in the game in Columbus?  Well, this game was the reverse of that: 10 points on 4/11 shooting (0/3 from deep), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 turnovers.  He was thoroughly outplayed by Aaron Craft (17 points on 6/7 shooting, 6 assists, 6 steals, 4 rebounds).  Aaron White also had a lousy outing, going for 8 points (3/9 shooting) and 7 rebounds.  Zach McCabe made Iowa's first three-pointer of the game... but he also missed his other five attempts (and went 1/8 from the field overall).  Jarrod Uthoff was a ghost in this game: 2 points on 1/4 shooting and 1 rebound in just 8 minutes of play.

Ultimately, it's easy to look at this game and say, well, if Iowa just makes a few more shots this would be a different game.  I mean, in theory, it should be really damn hard to get as many open looks from deep as Iowa got in this game and only make 15% of them.  (Ohio State seemed to be daring Iowa to make threes; obviously, that dare worked out just fine for them.)  So maybe that's all this was: a really unfortunately timed case of ice-cold shooting. Of course, that doesn't make this loss sting any less or change the fact that it's Iowa's fifth sixth loss this year (against just one win) to an RPI Top 25 team.  Two-thirds of this season is in the books; at some point Iowa needs to figure out how to win games like this to prevent this season from becoming another tale of what could have been.

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