A listless first half effort from the Buckeyes found them faced with a 12 point deficit entering halftime of Big Ten opener against Iowa. With many unanswered questions following a non-conference schedule featuring losses against their two biggest challenges and a slate of cupcakes, the basketball Buckeyes did little to quell concerns.
The Hawkeyes offense executed efficiently from the start, building a double digit lead and providing key baskets when OSU seemed poised to make a run. The Bucks closed the gap late, but couldn't do enough to open conference play off right.
While Iowa entered the game at 9-4 on the season and 41st overall in the country in Ken Pom rankings, they are much more indicative of the type of challenge and grind the Buckeyes will face from here on out in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes still have a lot of room to grow clearly.
3 Things we learned
1. This team has intensity issues at times. Call it youth, focus, lack of execution, whatever. This team does not always bring it's best effort for 40 minutes. The Buckeyes found themselves digging out of a hole almost immediately against Iowa and playing catchup against teams with an offensive pulse is always going to be difficult.
The good news is this is easily fixable with Thad Matta and staff likely to provide a not so gentle reminder. The bad news is this seems to be becoming a habit of the entire squad and not limited to a passive couple of trips down to the floor by Amir Williams.
2. As D'Angelo Russell goes, so goes Ohio State. Russell struggled early and often Tuesday, making only 3 of his first 11 attempts from the floor and struggling with foul trouble. Much like the first half against Louisville and loss against North Carolina, Russell just never found a rhythm and forced things at times.
Russell has already proven to be OSU's best talent and they will likely go as far as he can take them. However, he's going to need some help and will at times look like a first year player.
3. The zone giveth and the zone taketh away. Buckeye fans are probably still getting used to seeing Ohio State defend with the zone versus the man-to-man Thad Matta has typically relied on. The results have been mixed. Iowa was able to successfully shoot over the zone as well as control the glass while building their early lead.
Unfortunately, that's the reality of the zone and it remains the Buckeye's best option for defending going forward. The Bucks went to man-to-man late out of necessity finally.