Iowa Blitzes Ohio State Early, Cruises to Easy Victory
Ohio State junior Kaleb Wesson got a really good look at the best big man in the Big Ten on Thursday.
Unfortunately, he wasn't looking in the mirror.
Instead, Wesson got schooled by Iowa's Luka Garza, the league's leading scorer, and that embarrassing mismatch in the post carried over throughout the lineup in Iowa's 85-76 beating of OSU at Carver Hawkeye Arena.
No. 20 Iowa (19-8, 10-6) led by more than double-figures throughout most all of the last 36 minutes, with the No. 25 Buckeyes (17-9, 7-8) never getting closer than seven after a halting start.
"I didn't feel like from the jump we were near tough enough or sound enough or engaged enough defensively." OSU coach Chris Holtmann said. "That was the biggest issue. We missed shots. We missed some shots around the basket. That led to some frustration. It was more on the defensive end, for sure."
Iowa shot 62% in the first half, 48% for the game and made 10 three-point field goals to remain unbeaten at home in Big Ten play.
It gets no easier for OSU, which plays host to No. 7 Maryland at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Garza scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half on an array of moves in close, perimeter jumpers and transition opportunities he gained by out-hustling Wesson in transition.
His dominance, and his team's, was evident early in a game Iowa led by 10 points after just three minutes, by 15 after seven minutes and 18 after 11 minutes.
"That was obviously the difference," Holtmann said. "The first five minutes. We didn't have it. We didn't ever respond. The key was the first five minutes."
The Buckeyes tried to rally, but with Wesson missing all four of his three-point shots in the first half and shooting just 2-for-7, OSU could do no better than get within eight points before the break.
Kyle Young's hustle helped that mini-comeback, leading to three-point field goal from Luther Muhammad after saving a ball going out of bounds, and then he scored twice to close Iowa's lead to 43-35.
Joe Wieskamp's triple with 20 seconds left in the half rebuilt the lead to double-figures, however, and OSU wasted its best chance to get closer early in the second half.
Down 51-42, the Buckeyes went empty on six straight possessions while Iowa wasn't scoring.
The Hawkeyes finally broke through and bumped their lead to 56-42 before OSU ended its fatal three-minute scoreless stretch.
"We gave them life early and they kind of rode that all the way," Holtmann said.
Wesson, who leads OSU with a 14-point average, scored only 10.
Duane Washington, the Buckeyes' second-leading scorer, missed his first seven shots before warming to 15 in the final six minutes.
E.J. Liddell led Ohio State with 17 points.
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