Fresh off their first loss of the season, Ohio State got off to an uneven start against No. 20 Iowa at Value City Arena, trailing the Hawkeyes 37-35 at the half.
The Buckeyes, trying to avoid their first home loss of the season and a 2-2 start in Big Ten play, had a cold hand from the perimeter early, missing seven of their first eleven jumpers. Only senior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. and junior forward LaQuinton Ross connected from the outside in the game's first ten minutes.
Iowa, one of the highest-scoring teams in the country and one of the deepest, established its strength in the paint in the game's first four minutes. The Hawkeyes scored their first 16 points at the rim, with seniors Roy Devyn Marble and Melsahn Basabe getting five easy finishes early.
The energy seemed to shift after the under-12 timeout, though, as freshman forward Marc Loving, sophomore guard Amadeo Della Valle, and junior forward Sam Thompson began pressing the issue for Ohio State and driving to the hole and erasing an early 4-point deficit to take a 23-19 lead. Iowa also got away from what worked early, settling for perimeter shots and missing 9 of 14 over eight minutes before a Marble drive to the basket cut the lead to 23-21 at the under-8 timeout.
Sloppy play by the Buckeyes out of the under-8, with every possession resulting in either a turnover or a low-quality perimeter shot, swung the momentum back to Iowa, allowing Fran McCaffery's squad to go on an 8-2 run to retake the lead 29-26 with just under four minutes remaining.
The half ended with the Buckeyes ratcheting up the defensive intensity, sparked by senior guard Aaron Craft, and making a concerted effort to get to the rim offensively. The teams traded buckets with Iowa taking the lead.
The Hawkeyes were paced by Marble's 12 points, which led all scorers in the first 20 minutes. Ross led Ohio State with 10 points, with Smith and Thompson chipping in 8 apiece
The Buckeyes' defense did manage to slow Iowa's usually prolific offense, holding the Hawkeyes to just 14% shooting from the 3-point line. Troubling, though, was the team's meager three offensive rebounds in the half.