Iowa remains winless in Big Ten play, loses to Ohio State

In a game similar to Iowa’s loss to Michigan on Jan. 2, the Hawkeyes just could not string together any consistency on either end of the floor against Ohio State on Jan. 4.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery reacts to a play during an Iowa/Ohio State men's basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The Buckeyes defeated the Hawkeyes, 92-81. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

2018 hasn’t been kind to the Hawkeyes, and that didn’t change on Jan. 4 in Carver-Hawkeye.

The hunt for a Big Ten win continued for Iowa (9-8), as it dropped its second game in a row — this time to Ohio State (12-4), 92-81.

“Pretty much what happened the other day happened tonight,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We struggled on offense big time, they got running a little bit, and they scored some buckets. It’s problematic on both ends.”

It was an all-around off night for the Black and Gold, both offensively and defensively.

Iowa shot the ball at a 43 percent clip but couldn’t contain Ohio State, which sank 53 percent of its shots.

The Hawkeyes had no answer for Keita Bates-Diop, who cranked out an impressive 27-point, 13-rebound performance for the Buckeyes.

Tyler Cook scored 21 points for Iowa, but his impact wasn’t as great offensively as it was against Michigan on Jan. 2 (in that game, Cook scored 28 points and made 10 of his 15 shots).

Jordan Bohannon finished with only 1 3-pointer, but he registered a double-double (15 points, 10 assists) and only turned the ball over once.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s bench — heralded for most of the season as one of the team’s strong suits — scored only 13 points. Ahmad Wagner, Ryan Kriener, Brady Ellingson, and Cordell Pemsl combined to score 1 point in 40 minutes of action.

Iowa’s offense initially looked as if it regained its footing after slipping away against Michigan, but after the game’s early minutes, the shooting woes returned.

When consistency on both ends appeared, on and off, Iowa created manageable deficits. But Ohio State kept going on runs.

The Hawkeyes came out of halftime in a fury, going on a 9-0 run and cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 5 points.

But with every punch Iowa managed to land, Ohio State came back with one even harder.

The Buckeyes silenced Iowa’s run with a 12-2 run. The 5-point deficit was as close as the Hawkeyes got in the second half.

“We knew that [Iowa] had the potential to make another run,” Buckeye coach Chris Holtmann said. “In fact, we talked about that. They are an explosive team. The pace they play with comes at you in waves. They can get on a 10-0 run in a real hurry. Their system is set up to do that so well, and I have a lot of respect for how they are able to do that. And our guys made just enough plays to stem the tide and keep it an 8- to 12-point game.”

Early in the first half, it was the same story — the Buckeyes went on a 14-1 run over 4:17 to jump-start their attack.

Iowa was down by 2 points when Cook received his second personal foul of the half, and McCaffery opted to sit him rather than risk his picking up a third foul before the halfway mark in the first.

“Obviously, that is frustrating, coming out of the game with two fouls,” Cook said.

With its dominant scorer on the bench, Iowa mustered a single point over a three-minute stretch, and Ohio State’s lead grew to 12.

After seeming to find a consistent starting unit, McCaffery switched things up against Ohio State, removing Jack Nunge from the lineup and inserting Luka Garza.

Garza answered with his best performance against a Power-5 team, scoring 15 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.

Yet, even with Garza’s contribution, the offense seemed to mimic the weather — frozen.

There is no go-to, shot-creating upperclassman on Iowa this season — and many would venture to guess that’s a main issue with the team — but the players remain confident that even with inexperience, there are plenty of leaders on this team.

Iowa, still winless in 2018, aims to get back on track when it travels to College Park, Maryland, to square off against the Terrapins at 7 p.m. Jan. 7.

“It’s easy to kind of have a doomsday mindset right now, but we don’t have that,” Nicholas Baer said.

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