Hawkeye fans did a better job of filling the seats inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday afternoon than the Iowa men’s basketball team did of filling the basket.
A near sellout crowd of 15,400 wasn’t enough to keep Iowa from shooting an icy 32.1 percent from the field and it wasn’t enough to keep sixth-ranked Ohio State from cruising to a 76-47 victory, its seventh in a row over the Hawkeyes.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said afterward that his players were pressing on offense and it affected their shooting.
“Yeah, there’s no question about that,” McCaffery said. “You know it sort of started early and then it just kind of continued. And then once they got up double digits, it seemed like it was impossible to get it in.
“And then of course, (Ohio State) are shooting it free and easy, draining threes out of the corner. So it was frustrating.”
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State’s 6-foot-9, 265-pound all-America sophomore center, was as good as advertised while shredding Iowa for 28 points on 13-of-18 shooting from the field.
Sullinger made two more shots than Iowa did in the first half, converting on 7-of-9 field-goal attempts compared to just 5-of-23 shooting for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa shot better in the second half, making 12-of-30 attempts, but most of the baskets came after the score was lopsided.
Another telling statistic is that Iowa had more turnovers (20) than made baskets (17). Ohio State also had a 41-31 advantage on the boards and outscored Iowa 44-22 in the paint.
“I thought we ran reasonably well, got it to the rim a bunch of times, but just couldn’t get it in,” McCaffery said. “The one disappointing thing is we would have liked to have gotten a lot more second-shot opportunities when you are struggling like that.
“But you know, they’re a very big, strong, athletic team. It’s not so easy.”
Ohio State shot 51.6 percent from the field, making 33-of-64 field-goal attempts, including 7-of-14 from 3-point range. But it was their defense that stood out the most to the Ohio State players.
“Jared had a good game, but defense brings out our offense,” Ohio State sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas said. “On the road, you’ve got to play defense to win ball games.”
Iowa was coming off back-to-back Big Ten road victories for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Fans showed their appreciation by showing up in force and cheering loudly while there was something to cheer about.
But the Buckeyes scored the final six points of the first half, led 28-19 at halftime and then blew the game open during the final 20 minutes, leading by as many as 33 points in the second half.
Many of the fans headed for the exits after a timeout was called with 6 minutes, 50 seconds left in the second half and with Iowa trailing 62-36.
Thomas said Iowa’s recent success on the road caught their attention so there was no sneaking up on the Buckeyes, who improved to 15-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten.
“They won on the road; they’re a winning team in the Big Ten; they’re a great team,” Thomas said. “So that was our mindset to try and take that from them.”
McCaffery was asked at his post-game press conference what he would say to the fans.
“We are all disappointed with what happened today,” McCaffery said. “All we have to do is go back and break the film down and try to look at it, ‘OK, what did we do to get two great wins and what did we do today that wasn’t as effective and grow from it?’
“And the only thing I can say to the fans is how much we appreciate as a program how engaged they were today, and encourage them to stick with us because we have great kids and they will work hard they will come back and play better.”
Iowa’s next chance to play better will come against Michigan State on Tuesday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
The Hawkeyes (10-7, 2-2 Big Ten) haven’t won at the Breslin Center since 1993, a string of 16 consecutive losses. But they also hadn’t defeated Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., since 2000 until escaping with a 72-65 victory on New Year’s Eve.
“I’m really happy that the fans came out and supported us,” Iowa sophomore guard Devyn Marble said . “We’re upset that we weren’t able to put forth the performance they did want to see.
“But it’s a long season, though. We’ve still got 14 (Big Ten) games left. We’re not discouraged, just upset, but not discouraged. We know that’s a really good team. You can’t really beat yourself up about it. You’ve got to move on to the next one.”
Marble’s stat line was indicative of his team with him missing all but one of his eight field-goal attempts.
Junior forward Eric May was the only player for Iowa to make at least four field-goal attempts and he led his team in scoring with just nine points.
Sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe struggled for the second game in a row and sat on the bench for extended minutes for the second consecutive game. He only played 14 minutes Saturday, including just four in the second half, and finished with two points and four rebounds.
Basabe only played 11 minutes against Minnesota on Wednesday, but the Hawkeyes still won 64-62 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
“He’s an energy guy who in the last two games has not played with any energy,” McCaffery said of Basabe. “And that’s why he’s played 11 and 14 minutes. If he’s not going to play with energy, he’s not going to play. I can’t make it any simpler than that.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball