The Buckeyes entered the game looking to break a 15-game road losing streak. They finished 2-6 in January and have not won a road game since Jan. 1, 2023, which was at Northwestern. Iowa also came into this one looking to get right, as they have lost three of its last four games after winning three in a row to start conference play.
Like most Iowa teams, the Hawkeyes came into this matchup ranked No. 18 on KenPom in offensive efficiency and No. 117 in defense efficiency. The Hawkeyes are second in the conference in scoring at 84.4 points per game, only trailing Purdue and one of three conference teams to average over 80 points per game (Purdue, Illinois).
The series history of the two teams was 84-84 entering this game.
Iowa came into this game led by a three-headed scoring monster, all scoring 15 points per game or more. Tony Perkins averages 15.5 points per game, and Ben Krikke and Peyton Sandfort average 15.0 points per game.
Owen Freeman averages 10.9 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game. Perkins averages 4.0 rebounds per game and 4.1 assists per game. Krikke and Sandfort average 5.0 and 6.9 rebounds per game, respectively.
For Ohio State, sophomore guard Bruce Thornton leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game, 4.3 assists per game, 3.2 rebounds per game, and 1.4 steals per game. Minnesota transfer Jamison Battle averages 14.1 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Battle shoots 44 percent from the three-point line this season, which is the best in the Big Ten. Roddy Gayle is averaging 14.1 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, and 3.2 assists per game.
Freshman forward Scotty Middleton missed this contest with a lower leg injury and was wearing a boot during the warmups and game. Middleton averages 4.3 points per game and 1.5 rebounds per game on 16.6 minutes per game in 19 games played this season.
As usual, the Hawkeyes started this game on fire, knocking down seven of their first nine shots and taking an early lead. Both teams went back and forth on offense due to a mix of both good offense and bad defense.
The Buckeyes got a boost off the bench in the opening half, with Devin Royal and Bowen Hardman playing key minutes off the bench. Ohio State led 38-36 at the half. The Buckeyes are 11-2 this season when leading at the half.
Felix Okpara had one of the best halves of his Buckeye career, recording 10 points and three rebounds. Roddy Gayle and Devin Royal added eight points.
Payton Sandfort led Iowa with nine points, and Tony Perkins added eight points.
Ohio State shot 16-for-32 from the field and 3-for-6 from three-point range in the first half, while Iowa shot 15-for-28 from the field and 2-for-6 from three-point range.
To open the second half, both teams continued the back and forth on offense, but a quick 5-0 run from Iowa gave the Hawkeyes a 51-48 lead at the under-16 media timeout. Through the first 25 minutes of the game, Iowa outscored Ohio State 15-0 on fastbreak points.
Dale Bonner knocked down a three-pointer, and Devin Royal made one free-throw to give the Buckeyes a 52-51 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Roddy Gayle knocked down two free throws to give the Buckeyes a 54-51 lead, but a 7-0 Iowa run gave the Hawkeyes a 58-54 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes traded baskets for another five minutes, and an offensive rebound and putback from Jamison Battle cut the Iowa lead to just two points at 65-63. Josh Dix gave Iowa the 67-63 lead after a mid-range jumper. Jamison Battle added two more points from the free throw line to cut the deficit back to two points at the under-four-minute timeout.
Two Tony Perkins free-throws for Iowa gave the Hawkeyes a 73-69 lead with two minutes remaining in the game, but Battle answered with a bucket of his own for Ohio State.
With Iowa leading 74-73, Roddy Gayle recorded a tie-up to give Ohio State possession of the ball. With that offensive possession, the Buckeyes had a double dribble and turned the ball over. Patrick McCaffery went to the free-throw line and made both, giving Iowa a 76-73 lead with 21 seconds remaining.
Bruce Thornton went to the free-throw line for the Buckeyes, making both. Ohio State was forced to foul Patrick McCaffery again with 11 seconds left, and he made both. After Dale Bonner split the free throws for Ohio State, the Buckeyes fell 79-77.
For Ohio State, Jamison Battle led the way with 17 points.
Tony Perkins had 20 points for Iowa, while Peyton Sandfort added 15 points.
Here are some takeaways and storylines from the contest:
A “Royal” start
recorded eight points on 4-for-5 shooting in the first 15 minutes of the game. Royal came into this game averaging 2.9 points per game in 7.4 minutes per game, and his career-high of 11 points came against Central Michigan earlier in the season on 4-for-5 shooting in 11 minutes.
Hot shooting in the opening half
Ohio State shot 16-for-32 from the field and 3-for-6 from three-point range in the first half, while Iowa shot 15-for-28 from the field and 2-for-6 from three-point range. The Buckeyes did start 3-for-3 from behind the three-point line but missed their final three three-pointers of the half.
Okpara provides a boost
Felix Okpara averages 6.2 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game. Okpara recorded 10 points and three rebounds on 4-for-5 shooting and was able to make his presence felt in the paint early on, taking advantage of Iowa’s lack of size.
It takes a village
Everyone contributed for the Buckeyes in this one, with five Buckeyes recording nine or more points, including four of the five starters and Devin Royal off the bench. Evan Mahaffey also added six points.