The Iowa Hawkeyes notched their third consecutive conference win on Saturday afternoon against the No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes with a 72-62 win in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The win puts the Hawkeyes at a 14-3 (3-3 B1G).
Tyler Cook and Luka Garza both returned to the starting lineup, and it paid dividends. Cook had one of his best games of the season from an all-around performance perspective, tallying 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks before leaving the game late in the second half with an ankle injury. Garza, meanwhile, finished with 16 points, four rebounds, a steal, a block, and an assist. Ohio State, meanwhile, had a new season high for turnovers in a single game with 21.
The Buckeyes, coming off two straight losses, including an embarrassing loss at Rutgers earlier this week, probably viewed Iowa as an opportunity to their season back on track. They’d won 6 of their last 8 games against Iowa, after all.
The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, most likely saw an opportunity to earn their third straight conference win against a floundering team, and they succeeded. The team earned solid contributions from everyone who played. Jordan Bohannon had another low scoring game, but he did manage to earn his 1000th career point with two free throws late in the second half. Ryan Kriener in particular had a strong performance off the bench, earning 11 points and 3 rebounds. He was a true difference maker.
Caleb Wesson earned two early fouls, and the Hawkeyes promptly got the ball right back underneath the basket for another foul. Cook hit the free-throw line and had a make and a miss, which gave Iowa its first lead of the game at 3-2.
Suddenly, the Hawkeyes found themselves in transition with a wide-open Jordan Bohannon, who hit one of the widest open 3-pointers I’ve ever seen. Ohio State responded with a field goal of their own, and the teams entered the first media timeout 8-7.
It was fun to see the team playing with a clear-cut strategy for the second game in a row: get the ball into the paint and get Buckeyes into foul trouble. Is it an extremely simple game plan? Yes. But it was continuing to be effective, and it somehow felt to me like the team looked better playing with an actual gameplan instead of its normal free-wheeling offensive nature.
That trend continued out of the first media timeout. Bohannon found Cook from the top of the key who attacked the basket for an and-1, and suddenly Iowa had its largest lead of the game at 11-7, with 6 of those points coming in the paint. The Buckeyes had five team fouls and four turnovers in the first six minutes of the game, a situation that seemed very familiar to their loss at Rutgers on Wednesday. From there, the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes played hot potato with the ball, turning it over on both sides of the court more than they attempted field goals.
After more Iowa turnovers, suddenly the Buckeyes were back in the lead at 17-13. All looked bad until Ryan Kriener entered god-mode, tallying a layup, a block, a rebound, and a 3-pointer to regain the lead in the span of a minute. Boy, it’s been helpful to have him making plays.
Cook widened the lead by a point after he reminded us he is a MAN with a monster block and steal, which he took coast-to-coast for a foul.
You DO NOT come into Tyler Cook's kitchen pic.twitter.com/bVGqFNN9sL— HeavensBarstool (@HeavensHawkeye) January 12, 2019
The Buckeyes regained a three-point lead, but the turnovers continued to pile up, which helped the Hawkeyes keep it close. A Wieskamp putback was followed by a fantastic defensive possession for Iowa that ended in a shot clock violation for the Buckeyes’ 10th turnover.
The game was back-and-forth heading into the half, thanks to Iowa’s inability to convert off OSU turnovers. The teams went into the half with the Buckeyes holding a 26-24 lead. The half ended on an awful Ohio State 3-pointer attempt bouncing off the backboard, a very fitting end for what was a sloppy half, that featured 20 total turnovers.
The second half started out as more of the same. Another Buckeye turnover resulted in Isaiah Moss getting going and tying the game at 28. Both teams continued to trade baskets after that, and the Hawkeyes managed to keep Wesson in foul trouble, drawing his third with 17 minutes left in the game. Garza took advantage, coming alive in the second half again, to give Iowa a 35-30 lead. Just like that, Iowa had Ohio State on the verge of breakdown, but whether the team would actually capitalize was a different story. Tyler Cook capitalized with a ferocious dunk, and suddenly Iowa had gone on a 9-0 run to be up 37-30.
The Hawkeyes continued to attack the paint and off the dribble and continued to hold the lead, but the Buckeyes always kept it close. Iowa began getting into foul trouble of its own, including an early trip to the bench for Garza with more than 12 minutes remaining in the half, but Nicholas Baer and Kriener managed to lead the charge, maintaining a nice 44-38 lead with 11:38 remaining in the game.
Iowa could just...never put OSU away completely. Despite the turnovers, despite Ohio State’s scoring drought, the Buckeyes were still within 7 with 9:24 remaining. But Iowa stayed on top and got out to its largest lead of the game, 51-41, with 8:30 remaining. Another Cook block led to the forward running the floor and finding Joe Wieskamp under the basket for a foul. He sunk both, and suddenly Iowa was ahead 12 with 8:23 remaining.
And that was all she wrote, for all intents and purposes. An Isaiah Moss 3 drew the lead to 14 with 5:50 remaining, and the Buckeyes promptly turned the ball over, which tied their season high for turnovers at 19. Ouch.
With 4:08 remaining in the game, Cook went up for a layup and landed awkwardly on his left ankle, and he immediately went to the locker room. Hopefully it’s not too serious, but the next two games on the schedule are at least a little forgiving. The Northwestern win proved that the team can win without him, as well.
Speaking of the next two games, Iowa will play Penn State on Wednesday and Illinois next Sunday. The Hawkeyes should, at the worst, split that two game sequence (the program historically struggles in State College under Fran). But this team has no “bad” losses per se, and has continued to show resilience in weird games like this one. All hope is certainly not lost.
At least, not yet.