The Iowa Men’s Basketball team had been skating on thin ice in their last 5 Big Ten games, going 4-1 during that stretch with the average margin of victory in those games being just 3 points. Tonight in Columbus, Ohio the Hawks came crashing through that ice. Ohio State scorched #22 ranked Iowa in the second half on their way to a convincing 90-70 victory. Ohio State (18-10, 8-9) won for the first time against a ranked team in 6 tries this season. Iowa (21-7, 10-7) now must regroup, find a way to put a complete game together, something they haven’t done since February 1st against Michigan, and try to get some consistency rolling into March.
Iowa started the game by taking control and dictating the pace. They took an early 7-0 lead and Ohio State missed their first 6 shots, proving why they are one of the lowest scoring teams in the Big Ten. But that would soon change. The Buckeyes best player, 6’9 sophomore Kaleb Wesson picked up 2 fouls and found his way to the bench. This was a key factor in Iowa’s victory over Ohio State back in Iowa City on January 12th. The Buckeyes didn’t flinch and they quickly took the lead led by freshman Duane Washington, 17-13. At the 6:48 timeout, Ohio State led 22-18, and after a Nicholas Baer three pointer and Ohio State’s head coach, Chris Holtmann getting called for a technical foul, the Hawks went on a 13-3 run to take a 31-25 lead. Ryan Kriener and Maishe Dailey contributed off the bench and the Hawks had the momentum. The momentum switched quickly after a careless turnover by Tyler Cook and Baer gets called for a flagrant one foul which turned into a 6 point possession and now the game is tied at 31-31. The Buckeyes would take a 36-33 lead into the half, and this game looked like it would be another one that comes down to the wire for the Hawks. Enter Justin Ahrens.
The Buckeyes wasted no time and took command of the game at the start of the 2nd half. They hit 3 straight three pointers and opened up a 51-42 lead at the 15:23 mark. They would score 17 points in the first 5 minutes of the half. Ahrens, a 6’5 freshman, came into the game averaging 2.1 points per game. The kid would become a legend in Columbus by scoring 25 second half points. Ohio State broke Iowa’s 3/4 court press with ease, which led to Ahrens knocking down 3’s. Ohio State built a 74-56 lead, but the Hawks fought back and cut the lead to 11. But that is as close as they would get, as the ice started to crack. Redshirt freshman Connor McCaffrey would be called for a technical foul for showing up the ref after being called for two straight fouls. Shortly thereafter, his father, head coach Fran McCaffrey, gets called for a technical foul and just like that Iowa trailed 84-67. More about this later. Ohio State would go on to take this must win game for them, 90-70. Ohio State was led by Ahrens who had a career high with 29 points. He would also have a career highs in minutes played, field goals made, three pointers made, free throws made and hair gel. He finished 7-11 FG, 6-10 3pt, and 9-9 FT. “I really haven’t played all year so they probably didn’t have the scouting report,” the freshman said after the game. His 25 second half points is the most in the Big Ten since D’Angelo Russell in 2015. Kaleb Wesson added 18 pts and 11 reb. Ohio State had 5 players in double figures. Iowa was led by freshman Joe Weiskamp who had 17 pts on 5-6 from behind the arc. Tyler Cook punched in 12 pts and 10 reb. “We missed 29 shots tonight but only got 4 offensive rebounds,” Iowa head coach McCaffrey said. “Can’t do that on the road.”
As mentioned, Fran McCaffrey was not happy about the officiating in this game. It has been reported that he was heard shouting profanities at a referee in the hallway after the game. Tyler Rowland of the Toledo Blade reports: (warning: the tweet contains profanity)
If this story can be validated, I’m sure coach McCaffrey can expect a suspension. Not a good look for the coach or University.
This game can best be explained by the Seinfeld episode, “Bizarro World.” The outcome of this game seems to be dictated by polar opposites in a lot of categories. Ohio State averaged 64.5 points per game in Big Ten play. They scored 90. Justin Ahrens averaged 2.1 points per game, he had 29. The Buckeyes lead the conference in turnovers per possession, they had 21 turnovers in their first meeting, only had 10 tonight. Iowa averages 25 free throws per game, most in the conference, tonight only shot 14. Jordan Bohannon, a 41% three point shooter was 0-5. Ryan Kriener and Maishe Dailey combine to average 8 points per game, they scored 17. It all comes down to the fact that Iowa has skated by the last couple of weeks, not playing good basketball. But they need to regroup and get ready for a very tough Rutgers team that will come into Carver on Saturday for the last home game of the season. It will be interesting to see how the post game theatrics play out, because the Hawks need to come together and get ready for postseason play. Go Hawks!