Ohio State bounces back to down Iowa
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Deshaun Thomas scored a game-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Aaron Craft added 12 points and eight critical second-half free throws, as No. 14 Ohio State stifled Iowa defensively and held on for a 72-63 victory on Tuesday.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. contributed 12 points and six boards and Evan Ravenel came off the bench to donate 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting for the Buckeyes (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten), who have won eight straight in the series versus Iowa.
Ohio State, coming off a loss at Michigan State on Saturday, held the Hawkeyes to 35.5 percent shooting from the floor.
Aaron White led the Hawkeyes (13-6, 2-4) with 13 points and snagged seven rebounds, while Anthony Clemmons scored nine points and added three assists in the losing effort.
OSU finished the first half on a 22-9 run, as Smith Jr. snagged a rebound off Ravenel's missed and-one opportunity and hit a layup with three seconds left. The home team went into the break up 34-22.
Iowa managed just one basket from the 3:27 mark to the end of the half and shot a mere 25 percent from the floor.
The Buckeyes continued their stingy defense into the second half, holding Iowa to just seven points over the first seven minutes of play, before Zach McCabe's uncontested layup with 12:31 remaining brought the Hawkeyes within 53-31.
Iowa fought back with a 10-1 run, which included six points by McCabe and four by Clemmons, yet still trailed, 54-41 with eight minutes left to play.
"We had some chances early in the second half where we didn't convert; we kept getting it to the rim but then we'd only have a couple layups," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "At least, we dug in defensively. Once we started going with the big line up, that slowed the game down a little bit, and we started to chip away at the score."
Craft helped Ohio State find some type of offense by nailing five free throws, pushing his team's lead to 10 with over five minutes to play, but the Hawkeyes stuck around thanks to a full court press.
With 2 1/2 remaining, following two Roy Devyn Marble free throws, White's tough lay-in weakened OSU's advantage to five and the closest the game had been since halfway through the first half.
Ultimately, though, Iowa's poor shooting from the charity stripe (13-of-26) and the home team's execution when it counted -- going 10-for-12 from the line over the last 7:03 -- resulted in the Buckeyes holding on for the victory.
"We have been this way before in terms of searching for an identity," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I have been in games like this before, where we have our moments. We are searching for consistence. I'll take consistency over greatness."
The action stayed close early on until just under the midway point of the first half, as Eric May picked up a missed lay-in and slammed it home, giving the visitors a 13-12 lead.
The Buckeyes are now 11-1 this season on their home floor ... Ohio State now leads the all-time series, 76-75 ... Melsahn Basabe added seven points and 10 rebounds for Iowa ... Craft had zero points at halftime ... Craft set the school's all-time steals record with 205, when he stole the ball from White with 14:25 left in the second half ... The Buckeyes shot 51.9 percent.
01/22 22:54:48 ET