Iowa gave Ohio State all it could handle at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last month before David Lighty and Evan Turner took over down the stretch.
There’s little reason to expect another tight game in Columbus.
The 13th-ranked Buckeyes have won their 14 games at Value City Arena by an average of 26.0 points, and they’ll look to win their seventh straight Big Ten game Sunday when they face the lowly Hawkeyes.
Ohio State (17-6, 7-3) lost three of its first four conference games, but as Turner has recovered from a fractured back, his team has taken off. Turner has scored 21.5 points per game as the Buckeyes have won their last six Big Ten contests by an average of 12.6 points.
Their closest game in that stretch came Jan. 27 in Iowa City. Iowa (8-15, 2-8) shut down Ohio State early and held a 25-20 halftime lead before Lighty and Turner - who had four first-half points - combined for 32 in the final 20 minutes en route to a 65-57 victory.
“They were playing at their momentum, at their pace. They were allowed to be physical with us, and that really helped them a lot,” Turner said. “Once we got stops and ran in transition, we were fine.”
The Buckeyes haven’t had many tight games at home. Only one was decided by fewer than 13 points, and they combined to shoot 56.7 percent in their two most recent wins at Value City Arena over Minnesota and Penn State.
Ohio State is 12-0 when it make at least half of its shots.
After the Nittany Lions pulled within three late in the second half Wednesday, Jon Diebler hit a 3-pointer - his only field goal of the game - to help Ohio State close on a 10-0 run and win 75-62.
“We didn’t come out with enough intensity,” said Diebler, shooting 37.3 percent over his past eight games. “… It’s a team game, and we showed how versatile we really are sometimes. When we’re all clicking on the same page, it’s scary to think how good we can be.”
While Diebler has struggled and Lighty has been inconsistent, William Buford has elevated his game to provide a terrific second option behind Turner. The sophomore guard has averaged 19.5 points over his last four games, though he was held to 11 on 4-of-14 shooting last month at Iowa.
The Hawkeyes had won three of four before losing to the Buckeyes, but have followed with two dreadful shooting performances.
Iowa shot 30.9 percent in a 60-46 loss at Michigan on Jan. 30, then hit a season-low 29.6 percent in a 57-49 home loss to Illinois on Wednesday.
“I feel like this is two games now where when it was time to win, we just couldn’t come up with the right plays,” coach Todd Lickliter said. “Hopefully we will keep competing and that will happen.”
The Hawkeyes may get a boost Sunday if Anthony Tucker can return. The sophomore guard averaged 11.9 points before being suspended Dec. 20 for his second alcohol-related offense in two years. He’ll travel with the team but it’s unknown if he’ll play.
Iowa has lost its past four trips to Columbus by an average of 16.2 points, but stayed close in its latest visit. Matt Gatens had 22 points in a 68-65 loss on Dec. 31, 2008, while Diebler had 27 - hitting 7 of 10 3-pointers - to lead the Buckeyes.