The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s basketball knocks off Ohio State with clutch performance in the final minutes

Honored before the game for scoring 1000 points in his career, Tony Perkins delivered his fifth-straight 20-point performance.
Theodore Retsinas
Iowa guard Tony Perkins looks for an open teammate during a men’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Maryland Terrapins at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. The Terrapins defeated the Hawkeyes 69-67.

The Iowa men’s basketball team squeaked by Ohio State with a 79-77 crunchtime victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday –  a much-needed win to boost the Hawkeyes to a 5-6 conference record. 

Tony Perkins grabbed team-highs of 20 points and seven rebounds to lead the Hawkeyes. Josh Dix and Payton Sandfort came through with 15 points apiece while Patrick McCaffery followed up with 10 points. 

Prior to tipoff, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery stood at center court to hand Tony Perkins an honorary game ball for eclipsing 1,000 career points. The fourth-year guard did so in the game against Michigan on January 27.

“I’m really proud of us,” Sandfort said in postgame media availability. “There are times where we could’ve gotten down on ourselves… We did a great job responding and finishing this one out. You know, this is the type of win that gives you momentum and gets you to string some wins together.”

Ohio State came out aggressive, first attacking the interior and then finding open shooters on the perimeter using the drive-and-kick method to jump out on an early 8-4 lead. But the Hawkeyes responded swiftly as multiple Perkins’ mid-range jumpers and a Sandfort transition three fueled five straight scoring possessions that included a quick 7-0 run to take a 17-13 advantage just under seven minutes into the game. 

The Buckeyes caught back up with a brisk 6-0 run of their own, and from there it became a back-and-forth fight. Ohio State continued to bully its way to the cup for difficult finishes over the top of the defense in an effort to extend the lead, but Iowa’s high-scoring offense never let up. 

Sandfort hit consecutive elbow jumpers to give the Hawkeyes some life, followed up by a tough Dasonte Bowen finish at the rim and a spot-up three from Dix. But this late effort would come up short as the Buckeyes held a 38-36 lead heading into the break. 

Despite the low score at the half, both teams shot over 50 percent through the first 20 minutes of play. 

Iowa started the second half with back-to-back finishes at the cup by Owen Freeman and Dix, but Ohio State answered back with two buckets of its own to kill the run. However, a Sandfort signature three off the offensive rebound and a Perkins outlet pass leading to a Ben Krikke hanging finish at the rim had Carver-Hawkeye rumbling, warranting a Buckeye timeout. 

Following the highlight sequence, Iowa came up short on four consecutive offensive possessions while Ohio State took advantage, going from a 51-48 deficit to a 54-51 lead – that was until Perkins scored five straight points to put the Hawkeyes back up by two. 

After sitting out almost the whole game, Brock Harding came in and immediately set up Freeman with a nice bounce pass through two defenders for the strong dunk over the outstretched defender, bringing the crowd to its feet. 

Dix and Perkins started to burn Ohio State with three pull-up shots from the free throw line, though the Buckeyes kept answering back the way they had been all night long as the score read 69 all at the three-minute mark. 

Multiple scoring possessions later and the Hawkeyes led, 74-73, with 35 seconds remaining. Ohio State had possession of the ball, and Buckeye center Felix Okpara committed an unforced double dribble to give the Hawkeyes possession.

“It doesn’t matter how you get wins, it just matters that you get them,” Patrick said on the crunchtime win. “I think there’s stuff we need to work on, absolutely. Every team is still working on things. So there’s stuff we need to get corrected. But, you know, it’s a lot easier to correct things when you win.”

Four Patrick McCaffery made free throws later and the Hawkeyes finished with their fifth conference win to open the final 10-game stretch of the regular season.

Though Perkins didn’t speak postgame, Fran McCaffery elaborated on his journey from his first year as a Hawkeye to the 1,000-point veteran who led this team to a major win. 

“His game continues to mature,” the head coach said of Perkins. “You know, when he first got here, he was a junkyard dog, and that’s what we loved about him. That’s why we recruited him.”

“I think what you’re seeing now [from Perkins] is a competent guy who knows what he wants, who knows what he has to do to lead this team. And his decision-making is what you want from your leader, from the point guard, from your senior.”

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About the Contributors
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.
Theodore Retsinas, Photojournalist
Theodore Retsinas is a freshman at the University of Iowa studying Neuroscience.