February 2, 2008

Too much to overcome

IOWA CITY - During Thad Matta's tenure in Columbus there have been few places that the Buckeyes have had trouble but on Saturday night Ohio State walked into a building where the team had dropped three straight games. Despite beating the Hawkeyes going away by 31 points in January Iowa's (11-12, 4-6) slow down offense and hot shooting from Justin Johnson (24 points, 8-13 from 3 points) punished Ohio State's (15-7, 6-3) cold shooting 53-48.

Iowa knew that as a team that they couldn't go toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes in an up and down game so the Hawkeyes took almost every possession deep into the shot clock. When Johnson wasn't dropping bombs from beyond the arc Seth Gorney (10 points, 7 rebounds) was punishing Ohio State inside and also found range to hit several jumpers from inside the arc.

Ohio State managed to stick close throughout the first half of the game and had the score tied up at 22-all off of a Kosta Koufos (10 points, 7 rebounds) shot high off the glass but every time the Buckeyes would draw close the Hawkeyes would have an answer.

The difference in the game ultimately came down to beyond the arc where the Hawkeyes were 11-25 while the Buckeyes couldn't catch a break going 3-21 from three point land.

Even with Ohio State's problems shooting from the field and several inopportune rebounding lapses (despite out-rebounding Iowa 37-33) the Buckeyes were only down three points with 1:15 to go in the game but Jamar Butler (11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) was not able to put the team on his back and carry the Buckeyes to the win. Butler was forced to take an ugly drive toward the hole and his runner came nowhere near the mark.

Iowa would convert on a pair of free throws and the Buckeyes would never be within one possession the rest of the way. The Buckeyes appeared to have one more crack with Butler having another look at a three pointer but as Saturday night proved, shots were not going down for the Buckeyes. Cyrus Tate (2 points, 6 rebounds) knocked down a pair of free throws to send the 15-thousand plus Hawkeye faithful home happy.

Ohio State would only end up shooting 37.5 percent from the field and only attempted six free throws during the game (3-6). Rising freshman star Evan Turner had his worst game in the Scarlet and Gray going 2-9 from the field including 0-4 from beyond the arch in scoring four points.

Ohio State returns home to take on the Wolverines on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. (EST). While it might be too early to talk about tournament resumes it will be an important game for the Buckeyes if the team wants to be mentioned in the race for the NCAA tournament.

Game Stats

Ohio State - Butler 11, Koufos 10, Hunter 9, Lighty 9
Iowa - Johnson 24, Gorney 10, Freeman 9

Ohio State - Hunter 8, Koufos 7, Butler 5, Diebler 4
Iowa - Johnson 7, Gorney 7, Tate 6

Ohio State - Butler 4, Lighty 1
Iowa - Freeman 4, Gorney 4, Johnson 3, Peterson 3

Ohio State - Koufos 2, Turner 1
Iowa - Johnson 1

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