First-place Buckeyes control Big Ten race
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann warned his team to avoid a letdown after his team’s upset of No. 3 Purdue.
A letdown at this point for the Buckeyes would be as hard to imagine as them owning sole possession of first place of the Big Ten in mid-February.
That’s where they are after Keita Bates-Diop had 14 points and eight rebounds in No. 14 Ohio State’s 82-64 victory over Iowa on Saturday.
Hot shooting at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second propelled Ohio State (22-5, 13-1) to an insurmountable lead against the Hawkeyes (12-15, 3-11).
Kaleb Wesson added 18 points and C.J Jackson scored 14 for the Buckeyes. With Michigan State’s win over Purdue earlier Saturday, the Buckeyes are alone in first place in the conference.
“We still kind of control our destiny at this point,” Ohio State forward Micah Potter said. “We were still motivated, just motivated.”
Following a 7-0 Iowa run that put the Hawkeyes up 18-15, Ohio State rattled off an 8-0 run of its own with a second-chance layup and two layups in transition after forcing turnovers on three straight possessions. Ohio State made eight of its final 10 shots to end the half, which included four 3s to take a 42-32 lead into the break.
The prolific shooting spilled into the early moments of the second half for the Buckeyes. Jae’Sean Tate drove the baseline to find Jackson in the opposite corner for a 3, then drilled a rare 3 of his own to highlight a 14-0 run and extend the lead to 18 with 15:49 left as the sellout crowd of 18,809 fans roared for one of college basketball’s most surprising teams this season. Ohio State’s largest lead was 29.
“I thought we were good offensively for the whole game,” Holtmann said. “Moved the ball, shared it, made the right pass at the right time. Had a few too many turnovers, but I thought offensively we were really good. I thought we were much better defensively in the second half.”
Iowa hung around in the first half with 50 percent shooting, but shot just 35.5 percent in the second half as the Buckeyes piled onto their lead.
Iowa’s top scorer Tyler Cook had just eight points, and second-leading scorer Jordan Bohannon had 11.
“A lot of teams are coming to double (Cook). They sent some guys on him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He took a couple perimeter shots. We tried to run some things for him, but that had him pretty jammed up in there.”
For the final 6:36 of the game, Bates-Diop, Jackson and Tate all sat the bench for added rest.