Iowa basketball upsets No. 12 Ohio State with defense and second-half offense

Iowa quickly erased a poor first half thanks to stellar defense and an offensive explosion in the second half.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa forward Luka Garza drives to the net during a men's basketball matchup between Ohio State and Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, January 12, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes, 72-62.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

Iowa shot just 35.7 percent and turned the ball over nine times in the first half against No. 16 Ohio State.

Good thing there are two halves in basketball.

The Hawkeyes came out with a renowned sense of energy, especially on the offensive side, in the second half, racing past the Buckeyes for a 72-62 victory in Carver on Saturday.

Luka Garza scored a game-high 16 points, Tyler Cook scored 15, and the Hawkeyes never took their foot off the gas in the second half, especially defensively.

The Buckeyes shot just 37.3 percent and turned the ball over 21 times in the loss. Ohio State’s 62 points tied for the second-fewest total this season thanks to Iowa’s ability to harass in the press defense.

“The press was good to us, the second half in particular,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “They had 11 [turnovers] at halftime, too. I though our man-to-man was pretty good, but in the second half, the press got them playing side-to-side. It was an integral part of when we finally got a little bit of separation.”

Iowa contained Ohio State forward Kaleb Wessen to just 2 points in nearly 24 minutes, and he finished with 4 fouls (for reference, the big man entered Saturday scoring 17.1 points per game).

“That was part of our game plan, to play physical with him, go through him, go through him, try and get him to foul,” Iowa forward Ryan Kriener said. “We got an early [foul] and then came down the floor. Luka was playing physical with him, and we were fortunate enough to get the extension call that got his second [foul] pretty quick. After that, he sat most of the first half, and that was really fortunate for us.”

Offensively, Cook found his stride after a rough first half. The junior nearly recording as many turnovers (5) as points (6) in the first, and he shot 2-for-6.

Cook made 3 of his 4 field goal attempts in the second half, and it’s no surprise Iowa outscored Ohio State, 48-36, at the same time. It was Cook’s first action since Jan. 6, as the forward missed Iowa’s 73-63 win over Northwestern with an injury.

Cook did exit the Ohio State game early, however, with what appeared to be a left ankle injury. McCaffery didn’t get into too many details when asked about Cook’s status.

“He’s a little sore, as you probably figured” McCaffery said. “We’ll see how he does over the next couple of days.”

Jordan Bohannon, though, was a bit more optimistic.

“We always make fun of him – he was made in a lab. He doesn’t get hurt,” Bohannon said. “Just put a shot in him and he’ll be fine… he’ll say the same thing.”

With Cook’s status up in the air, Iowa received a promising performance from fellow big man Garza, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 18.

The sophomore followed up his 16-point outing in Evanston, Illinois, on Wednesday with another 16-point performance against the Buckeyes.

A pair of fouls bothered Garza in the first half, as he scored just 2 points on 1-of-2 shooting. In the second half, he shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor.

“To have a half like we did in the first half – not scoring the ball – and to be able to stay in the game… it’s huge for us,” Garza said.

Now, with a .500 record in Big Ten play, Iowa turns its attention to Penn State. The Nittany Lions host the Hawkeyes on Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

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