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Hawkeyes take it to Ohio State, 92-75

Connor McCaffery’s career night sparked an explosive second half for the Hawks

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McCaffery notched a career-high 13 assists to lead the Iowa Hawkeyes (17-9, 9-6) to a 92-75 rout over the Ohio State Buckeyes (11-15, 3-12). The Hawks had two guys go for 20+ points for the fourth time this season in Tony Perkins (24) and Kris Murray (20). In addition to McCaffery’s incredible passing, he added 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.

It was a thorough offensive performance, as Iowa made 57% of their shots from the field and 37% from deep. They rebounded 11 of their 31 misses while keeping OSU off their own offensive glass with just two. Sean McNeil led the Bucks with 20 points on 7/7 shooting but honestly, if you’re only shooting 7 shots to get to 20 points, you’re not shooting enough.

The Hawks started out hot by jumping to an 8-3 lead after a breakaway Kris Murray dunk. Ohio State punched back with a fiery shooting from deep, with Sean McNeil going 3/3 to help tilt the game in their favor at 20-19.

It remained a back-and-forth affair for the bulk of the half as each team cooled off from the opening minutes - Iowa from missing shots, Ohio State from turning it over - before Iowa went volcanic to close the half. A Tony Perkins three ignited the offense to get a 35-33 lead for the Hawks.

Brice Sensabaugh got the lead back for the Buckeyes and Iowa followed up their only two turnovers of the first half with a Connor McCaffery three to get it back. Payton Sandfort & Kris Murray added triples of their own over the next 69 seconds before another three from Perk closed the half with Iowa up 11 points.

It’d be cliché to write Iowa picked up where they left off in the second half so I’ll just fawn over Connor McCaffery’s sensational stanza. He was all over the court defensively, notching two steals and high praise from Robbie Hummel. Offensively, he dazzled with eight assists including this great one to Murray:

The only error on his night - yeah, he had zero turnovers - was missing out on a dunk attempt on his only basket of the second half.

As for the rest of the team, Iowa simply blitzed the Buckeyes. Before garbage time settled in after the 4:00 mark, statbroadcast had Iowa paced for 1.64 points/possession on the half. Perkins & Murray each reached double digits in the half while Ulis & Patrick McCaffery added 7 in the laugher of a half.

After Connor notched his 13th assist on the game, he and Murray received a curtain call from those who braved the storm with Iowa up 88-60. Some shaky press-breaking and a 6-0 Ohio State run led to Fran reinserting them to ice the game. They largely complied to ice it off at 92-75 in a game.

The 17-point lead was the closest it was since 15:03.

It was a classic Iowa-under-Fran game where the offense went absolutely nuts alongside solid defense which isn’t shown in the ultimate scoreline. The Hawks force 14 turnovers - nine in the first half - and had seven steals.

As for Iowa’s opponent, there’s not much to say outside of what’s already been written, including this one from nine days ago. They lack any sort of chemistry and, while Zed Key played his heart out before having to exit due to his shoulder injury, heart and toughness.

Where the Hawkeyes couldn’t take advantage in their first matchup, they did tonight. They’ll face Northwestern on Sunday with a chance at tying for second place in the conference. Helluva place to be considering where this team has been this season.