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Ohio State avoids the trap and runs away from Iowa, 82-64

Kaleb Wesson more than made up for being shut out by Purdue.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

Coming off the high of winning in West Lafayette on Wednesday, the Ohio State Buckeyes (22-5, 13-1) avoided walking into the proverbial trap game as they dispatched the Iowa Hawkeyes (12-15, 3-11), 82-64. With the win, OSU takes the all-time, series lead between the programs, 80-79.

The Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes early in the Big Ten season, but Iowa gave OSU all they could handle in Iowa City. Ohio State won the first matchup by the score of 92-81. However, in Saturday’s game at the Value City Arena, the Buckeyes used a 14-0 run early in the second half and a tremendous defensive effort to put the rematch out of hand for the home team.

With the win, Ohio State effectively opens up a two-game lead in the Big Ten by virtue of holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over both Purdue and Michigan State. MSU beat the Boilermakers right after action tipped off in Columbus to give both teams two losses in conference play.

With guard Kam Williams still not in the lineup due to an indefinite suspension, the Buckeyes opened up the game strong, with Kaleb Wesson making up for his lack of contribution against Purdue, where he was held scoreless for the first time in his career. The younger of the Wesson brothers accounted for six of OSU’s first nine points, including an old-fashioned three-point play after cleaning up the rebound from his brother Andre’s missed three-pointer.

After a steal by Andrew Dakich, Micah Potter came up short on an awkward dunk attempt, one possession after he missed a bunny down low. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Keita Bates-Diop was more on his game, hitting his first two shots, both from behind the arc. Jae’Sean Tate was also making his presence felt early, including a slick cut into the lane and one of his patented left-handed layups.

Bates-Diop would add a free throw, but that would be his only points in the first half, and Tate would add another bucket before the break. The veteran pair went into the intermission with seven and four points respectively.

With four players averaging in double figures, Iowa saw balanced scoring early in the game. Tyler Cook, Jordan Bohannon, Luke Garza, and Isaiah Moss all got into the scoring column as the Hawkeyes took a 16-15 lead with 10:39 remaining in the first half.

By the time the first 20 minutes were up, freshman Jack Nunge had also made a contribution equalling Bohannon and Garza with eight points to lead the Hawkeyes. Cook had four, and Moss, a pair.

However, after C.J. Jackson gave it up to an unsuspecting Tate who finished with a fastbreak dunk, Tate then drew an offensive foul on Cook, his second of the game forcing him to the bench. On the strength of an 8-0 run in 1:18, OSU reclaimed the lead 23-20 at the under-eight timeout.

The Buckeyes increased their lead thanks to some resurgent three-point shooting as Andre Wesson, Dakich, and Jackson (twice) all connected from deep. Jackson picked up the other kind of three-pointer as he created and collected a turnover, before dicing through the lane for the hoop and the harm to give OSU their largest lead of the game at the time, 42-30. Iowa would hit two free throws before halftime.

Jackson led all scorers going into the break with 11, and after missing his last 10 three-point attempts coming into the game, his hot hand was a welcome addition to the Buckeye scoring arsenal against Iowa. Kaleb Wesson also had 10 to go along with four rebounds. He did pick up his second personal on a suspect offensive foul call late in the first half.

Ohio State returned a bit to their early-season shooting form, hitting 6-of-10 attempts (60%) from downtown in the first 20 minutes for a slightly better percentage than their overall from the field, 56 percent (14-of-25). Iowa on the other hand shot a solid 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field, but a disappointing 2-of-9 (22.2%) from distance.

The Buckeyes also held a significant advantage from the charity strip, as they were 8-for-12, while the Hawkeyes were only 2-for-3, despite committing only two more personals than OSU.

Coming out of the break, the Buckeyes were on fire, connecting on five of their first eight attempts from the floor, including a 10-0 run to balloon their lead to 54-26. In the run, Tate finished a determined drive to the basket and hit a corner three, which prompted Iowa coach Fran McCaffery to call a timeout just over four minutes into the half.

The run eventually got to 14-0 before Cook hit a jumper, but that only stopped the Buckeye scoring momentarily, as OSU eventually increased the lead to 25 following an “and-1” from Dakich at the 11:00 mark.

At that point, McCaffery started giving more playing time to some of his bench players. Shortly thereafter, Jackson appeared to get injured and/or cramp up and had to exit the game and head into the locker room with the outcome all but decided.

With Jackson out of the game, Musa Jallow entered and scored on his first two offensive possessions, just one week after turning 18. Kaleb Wesson had the six points surrounding Jallow’s buckets, en route to 18 points—just one shy of his career high. The freshman big man lead the Buckeyes in points for the first time in his career. He also supplied seven rebounds in just 24 minutes of action.

Just before the two-minute mark, Potter redeemed himself for his first-half miss with an emphatic dunk to give him 10 on the night, and to become the fifth Buckeye to go for double-digits. From there, Holtmann emptied the bench as a handful of walk-ons got some playing time.

After committing just a single turnover in the second half against Purdue, the Buckeyes didn’t have any, until the final two minutes, when all of the subs were on the floor.

Nunge equalled Kaleb Wesson with 18, leading the way for the Hawkeyes. Only Bohannon (11) joined him in double-figures.

The Buckeyes will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 15 in Happy Valley as they look to avenge their only Big Ten loss. Penn State and Ohio State will tip off at 8 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.