No. 6 Ohio State pounds Iowa 76-47By LUKE MEREDITH, AP Sports Writer Saturday, Jan 7, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP)—Jared Sullinger was walking back to the Ohio State locker room with a towel draped around his neck when he spotted freshman Shannon Scott being grilled by reporters.
The effervescent Sullinger pulled up in front of the scrum and started making faces, drawing a wide smile from Scott.
Sullinger had every reason to be in good spirits after the show he put on in Iowa City.
Sullinger scored a season-high 28 points and sixth-ranked Ohio State pounded Iowa 76-47 on Saturday. Deshaun Thomas added 10 points for the Buckeyes, who won for the second time on the road.
“The fellas made a conscious effort to throw it inside, because they knew if they threw it inside it was either going to be a double-team or they were going to play one-on-one. Coach (Thad) Matta thinks that works to our advantage,” Sullinger said.
Ohio State (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) went on a 16-2 run sandwiched around halftime to jump ahead 38-21 early in the second half. The Buckeyes steadily built that lead to 60-33 with just under eight minutes left and cruised to their third Big Ten win by at least 29 points.
Eric May had nine points to lead Iowa (10-7, 2-2), which was a dreadful from the 17-of-53 from the floor while committing 20 turnovers.
“I don’t think we thought we would get blitzed like that,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
The Hawkeyes, like most teams before them, had few answers for Sullinger.
Once Sullinger’s teammates got going, Iowa found itself overmatched.
Thomas, who’d been quiet early, hit a jumper and a layup to push Ohio State ahead 50-29. Aaron Craft then dished through a pair of Iowa defenders and led Sullinger to the basket, a brilliant play that sucked what little life was left from a near-sellout crowd.
“I still think our defense kind of got us going and generated some offense for us and we were able to convert,” Matta said.
William Buford finished with eight points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who shot 64.5 percent from the field in the second half.
But Buford couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, missing all 10 of his shots. Sullinger picked him up, outscored cold-shooting Iowa by himself in the first 13 minutes as the Buckeyes jumped ahead 28-19 by halftime.
The Hawkeyes hit just five field goals in the first 20 minutes and had 12 turnovers against just one assist. Had Buford been able to hit a few shots, Ohio State might have put the game away much earlier than it did.
Matta said `The game is not over. We have to go out there and take it,’ and I think that’s what we did,” Sullinger said.
Buford finally broke through with a layup that gave Ohio State a 33-19 lead, forcing Iowa coach Fran McCaffery to call a quick timeout in an effort to keep things from getting worse.
It didn’t work. The Buckeyes pushed their edge to 38-21 two minutes into the second half as Craft cut to the hoop for a quick layup.
For the first time in a while though, there was a big-game feel around Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes—who’d lost to Campbell by 16 points in this building six weeks ago—were coming off a pair of surprising Big Ten road wins. Iowa got past No. 18 Wisconsin 72-65, then held on to beat Minnesota 64-62.
It didn’t hurt that the Badgers and Gophers combined to shoot 7-of-51 from 3-point range. But the road winning streak, their first since 2007, seemed to indicate that the long-awaited revival of Hawkeyes basketball might finally be around the corner.
It certainly didn’t come Saturday.
“We win on the road twice, we are not sneaking up on anybody anymore,” McCaffery said. “We got their best shot.”
Ohio State’s only blemishes came at Kansas, where they lost 78-67 in overtime without Sullinger, and a three-point defeat at surging Indiana. The Buckeyes sandwiched that loss to the Hoosiers with blowout wins over Northwestern and Nebraska—two teams picked along with Iowa near the bottom of the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes likely won’t be anywhere near the league basement, a point they drove home emphatically in Iowa City.
“We were on the beneficial end of things going our way, shots didn’t drop for Iowa. But as I told our guys, I felt like we kept defending,” Matta said.
“In the first half