If Ohio State wanted to become the second team this season to win a road game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, it didn’t look like it for most of Thursday’s contest.
No. 25 Ohio State (17-9, 7-8 Big Ten) became the 12th straight victim of No. 20 Iowa’s (19-8, 10-6) home court advantage, dropping a 85-76 result after a hot start from the Hawkeyes.
The Buckeyes started just 3-for-14 while Iowa jumped out to a 19-point lead 10 minutes in.
Iowa junior center Luka Garza, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, performed as advertised in the first half. Garza dropped 17 points on two 3-pointers and a variety of low post touches despite a series of double teams and trap looks from the Buckeye defense. He finished with 24.
The Buckeyes chipped away though, and found themselves down just nine points in the opening minutes of the second half when Ohio State freshman forward E.J. Liddell emphatically swatted back a Garza shot attempt.
But the ball found its way to Iowa redshirt senior guard Bakari Evelyn for an open 3 in the corner, and the Hawkeyes scored again 22 seconds later to regain a 14-point lead.
Midway through the second half, the Buckeyes had seven turnovers to just three field goals, and they never fully recovered from the opening barrage from Garza and the Hawkeyes.
Four Ohio State 3-pointers in the final 2:47 cut the lead to as few as seven points, but the result was never truly in question.
A catch-and-shoot 3 from Iowa senior forward Ryan Kriener removed any doubt, extending the lead back to 19 with less than seven minutes to go in the game.
The Hawkeyes shot 60 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, but Ohio State weathered the early storm to take just a 46-35 deficit into halftime with the help of an unlikely source of offense.
Liddell, who averages fewer than six points per game this season, scored 11 points in the first half to lead the Buckeyes on 5-of-7 shooting. Liddell finished with 17.
It was on one of Liddell’s two misses that junior forward Kyle Young scored a putback on his third of four offensive rebounds in the first half to put the Buckeyes down eight points with 47 seconds left to play.
However, Garza kicked the ball to sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp on the Hawkeyes’ final first-half possession for a 3-point make to set the halftime tally in stone.
Ohio State junior forward Kaleb Wesson didn’t score his first points until nearly 14 minutes in, at which point Garza was already in double digits, and the Buckeye big man hit just 2-of-7 attempts in the half.
However, Wesson drew an offensive foul on Garza around the five-minute mark and scored on the 6-foot-11 Iowa center in the post on the next possession to cut the Hawkeye lead to 10.
The Wesson basket was part of a 12-4 run that helped Ohio State get back within striking distance.
That distance was never closed though, and Kaleb Wesson finished with just 10 points on the night. Wesson and sophomore guard Duane Washington accounted for nine of 21 misses from 3 for Ohio State Thursday.
Ohio State returns to the Schottenstein Center for a 4 p.m. meeting with Maryland Sunday.