In a back-and-forth contest, the Buckeyes defeated/fell to the Hawkeyes x-x.
In the Buckeyes’ first-round game on Wednesday, the Buckeyes defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 65-57 to move on to face Iowa.
In the Buckeyes' two games against the Hawkeyes this season, they averaged 82 points per game on 57% shooting from the field and 52 percent from the three-point line.
Iowa won the Big Ten Tournament last season as the No. 5 seed.
Brice Sensabaugh leads the Buckeyes in scoring, averaging 16.3 points per game. Freshman point guard Bruce Thornton has been on a tear and is averaging 16.8 points per game over the last five games.
Stellar sophomore Kris Murray leads Iowa with 20.5 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Iowa got off to a quick start in this one, taking a 7-4 lead over the Buckeyes into the first media timeout. The Hawkeyes showed some defensive pressure early that affected the young Buckeye guards.
Iowa and Ohio State are both incredibly talented offensive teams and most figured the score would indicate such, but both teams struggled a bit to score and went back and forth throughout the first half.
Brice Sensabaugh had a steal and a score to give the Buckeyes a 23-20 lead late in the first half.
After a couple of baskets by both teams, the Buckeyes led the Hawkeyes 29-28 at halftime. Bruce Thornton led the way for Ohio State with nine pints on 4-for-7 shooting from the field and Brice Sensabaugh added eight points on 4-for-6 shooting.
For Iowa, Filip Rebraca had 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Kris Murray added seven points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Both the Buckeyes and the Hawkeyes had multiple offensive possessions that ended in miscommunication and turnovers or forced shots at the end of the shot clock, and OSU had more than one shot-clock violation.
To start the second half, Iowa was able to push their lead to 36-33 after a three-point play from Kris Murray.
Both offenses woke up at this point in the game, as the two teams traded buckets, and a Bruce Thornton runner in the lane gave the Buckeyes a 48-47 lead heading into an Ohio State timeout.
Iowa was able to use the offensive glass to its advantage and take a 57-54 lead with 7:13 left in the game.
The Roddy Gayle show took effect late in this one with the freshman guard scoring seven straight points for the Buckeyes to give them a 64-61 lead with three minutes remaining in the game and forcing an Iowa timeout.
A Justice Sueing three and two free throws from Filip Rebraca made the score 67-65 with 1:34 left in the game.
Bruce Thornton and Kris Murray traded baskets to make the score 69-67.
Roddy Gayle continued his hot streak, knocking down two huge free throws to give the Buckeyes a four-point lead.
After two Iowa free throws and insane loose ball sequence, Ohio State retained possession and Justice Sueing went to the free throw line after all the chaos was said and done.
Sueing made both free throws and the Buckeyes won 73-69.
For Ohio State, Brice Sensabaugh and Bruce Thornton recorded 16 and 15 points to lead the way. For Iowa, Filip Rebraca finished with 20 points.
Here are three takeaways from the Buckeyes' win/loss over Iowa:
Bruce Thornton is going to be an All-Big Ten guard
Ohio State’s got another great freshman.— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) March 9, 2023
Bruce Thornton’s last 5 games:
3.4 rpg pic.twitter.com/WX9fgQs03z
Outside of the slight freshman wall that Thornton hit in the middle of January, he has been everything you could ask from a freshman point guard. He has played over 30 minutes a game from the start of the season and has been asked to lead the team and facilitate the offense from the jump.
He was named a captain halfway through the season because of how he handles himself, he is averaging almost 17 points per game over his last five games and has played some of his best games in the Buckeyes biggest games of the season.
Thornton is not an NBA prospect yet, so he will be in Columbus for at least a couple more seasons. With what we have seen from him over the last month, his ceiling may not exist.
Felix Okpara is getting more comfortable
Nothing can prepare someone for the moment quite like experience can. Okpara came into the season as a raw prospect that had immense potential but struggled to defend without fouling and sometimes looked out of his element down low.
Since the 6’11 freshman took over for Zed Key in the starting lineup and has started playing more minutes, Okpara has taken huge strides in his interior defense and the way he moves off the ball, setting perimeter screens for shooters and helping guys like Sensabaugh and McNeil get open for shots.
With Zed Key returning, Okpara will likely come off the bench next season, but he has proven he can play at this level, and with another offseason of strength training, he should be a valuable piece for the Buckeyes next season.
Hitting on a transfer next season will be key
It is the new climate of college basketball. Ohio State and the coaching staff have done a great job at the traditional recruiting aspect, bringing in two top ten nationally ranked classes in a row. However, over the last three years, they have not been able to maximize the potential of some of the transfers they have brought in.
Depending on the decision of Brice Sensabaugh and the NBA draft next season, the Buckeyes have a chance to be really good. They will likely have at least one or two roster spots to fill out from transfers.
They will have to bring in an immediate impact transfer to help the sophomores and incoming freshmen as they adapt to college basketball for the first couple of months.
Ohio State will take on the No. 4 seed Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament at 2:30 p.m. ET on Friday on the Big Ten Network for a chance to play the winner of No. 1 seed Purdue and No. 9 seed Rutgers in the semifinals on Saturday.