If there's one thing Ohio State does well, it's revenge wins. Rarely will a team beat these Buckeyes twice in one season. But the Buckeyes have no dropped both their meetings with the Hawkeyes this season. So much for the revenge theory.
The Buckeyes went down big early, surrendering a 9-0 run to Iowa, and that lead held for most of the second half. Jae'Sean Tate sparked the Buckeyes offense from the bench, taking fouls, blocking shots, and scoring 6 points. The rest of the Buckeyes looked cold and anxious; Tate was smooth and enthusiastic and single-handedly kept the Buckeyes in the game.
Things didn't improve in the second half either. The Buckeyes continued their cold shooting and, if anything, lost more composure. The 9-point lead maintained, growing to as much as 16 at one point. It was a breath of fresh air when the lead cut to single digits with 8-minutes left. Iowa looked composed and in-control the entire game.
Turnovers were a serious issue in this game. D'Angelo Russell and Shannon Scott had 3 apiece midway through the second half. Iowa did a nice job of confusing and pressuring Ohio State's point guards, forcing errors and capitalizing on boneheaded play by even experienced Buckeyes.
Ohio State committed nearly 25 personal fouls in this game, putting Iowa on the free throw line for easy points. You could see the frustration on the faces of this team as the fouls kept coming.
Russell did his best to keep his team in this game, scoring over 20 for the 6th time this season and recording a double-double, but more and more these games are looking like the D'Angelo and Friends show. Someone else is going to have to step up on offense to let Russell shine and bring this team to victory.
3 things we learned:
1. These Buckeyes can still show their youth.
Errant finger-rolls, sloppy fouls, defensive lapses - this Buckeye team showed their inexperience during this game. Gone was the poise, the confidence, the meticulousness that this team has shown during tough games before. In its place was defense that left shooters wide open, easy shots that were just plain missed, and emotions that turned into fouls.
D'Angelo Russell and Marc Loving were the main culprits. Russell went for complicated shots when easier ones would do, and committed his fair share of stupid fouls. Loving just got frustrated at times, and it showed during his offense and defense.
Overall, we can chalk up this poor play to youth and inexperience, which led to uninspired play.
2. Cool stat line, Amir.
With 17 minutes left in the game, Amir Williams had 0 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Granted, the Buckeyes went small for a lot of this game, playing neither Williams or Trey McDonald, but for a starting center to have no points when he's the tallest one on the court is embarrassing. Williams scored on a put-back dunk (for once) and drew a foul at the 14-minute mark in the game, but that was really his only contribution to this game.
Ohio State's offense would be well-served with a little variety right now - it can't always be Russell making insane shots and Marc Loving banking in 3s that get us all our points. An inside game with our 6-11 center would be nice. Williams has got to step it up.
3. Where were the second-half adjustments?
For everything Thad Matta's done for this program, sometimes he just doesn't seem to have the answers. For every brilliant second-half comeback (Louisville), there's a game like this, where there are no evident adjustments, no encouraging pep-talk, no answer for the poor performance of his team.
There didn't appear to be any change in the Buckeyes play as this game went down - the whole coaching staff appeared to just be waiting for shots to fall, waiting for the players to figure this out. There were lineup changes, but if all Matta can do is throw guys on the floor and see what happens, I could run this team.
I'm not sure if this road loss was a teaching moment, or if there's something bad afoot in the locker room, but this team did not look well-coached.