Iowa basketball has been a creature of habit for much of this season; unfortunately, those habits are almost all bad. Slow rotations on defense? Yep. Sloppy turnovers? Yeah. Prolonged scoring drought? You know it. A lopsided run for the opponent to put the game out of reach? Do you even need to ask? Iowa basketball played the hits tonight and they fell to the Buckeyes, 82-64, to fall to 12-15 overall and 3-11 in the Big Ten.
The question we had entering the game was whether or not Iowa could break some of their bad trends this season. The answer to that was an emphatic no. Iowa had gone 1-5 in Big Ten road games prior to this game, losing those five games by an average of 17 points per game. Make it 1-6 in Big Ten road games now, with an average margin of defeat of 17.3 points per loss. In fact, road games in general have been absolutely nightmarish for Iowa this season. They're 1-8 in those contests, with an average margin of defeat of 18 points in the losses.
Iowa had struggled to string together consistently good performances in Big Ten play; we're still waiting for them to put together back-to-back credible performances in league play. After an impressive showing in their loss against Michigan State earlier in the week, there was some hope that maybe -- maybe -- they had turned a corner of sorts. That corner turned out to be a cul-de-sac because they're stuck in their same old loop of dysfunction and misery. Iowa followed their win over Illinois with a 16-point thud against Rutgers. They followed a blowout win over Wisconsin with a 14-point loss at Nebraska in a game where the Huskers had the best offensive performance in their Big Ten history. They followed their emphatic win over Minnesota with an ugly 24-point wipeout at Penn State last weekend. And now they've followed up that seemingly encouraging outing against Michigan State with a 18-point faceplant against Ohio State.
Oh, and they gave up at least 80 points for the 14th time this season; they're 3-11 in those games. Turns out it's pretty difficult to win college basketball teams when you routinely allow opponents to score at least 80 points a game. Ohio State posted an eFG of 61% in this game and an offensive efficiency rating of 125.4 -- and that's even accounting for the fact that their offense slowed down considerably in the final ten minutes. Four of five OSU starters were in double figures, led by Kaleb Wesson's 18 points, and they had five players total in double figures; their balanced attack gave Iowa fits all game.
It was a back-and-forth game early and Iowa actually used a 7-1 run to take an 18-15 lead halfway through the first half. That lead was short-lived -- and never regained. OSU went on an 18-6 run to take a 33-24 lead with under four minutes and the lead hovered around 10 points for the rest of the half. Iowa went into the break down 42-32 -- not out of it, but needing a good start to the second half to stay in the game. They didn't get it. OSU opened the half on a 20-6 run (which featured a patented four-minute scoring drought for Iowa) in the first six minutes of the second half. That made it 62-38 and the rest of the game was just playing out the string.
Tyler Cook picked up his second foul of the game with almost nine minutes to go in the first half and, per tradition, sat the remainder of the half. Iowa trailed 19-18 when he left the game and got outscored 23-14 with him on the bench. His absence hurt, but it's hard to argue it was decisive. He was on the floor during the second half during that 20-6 run OSU used to put the game out of reach. There was no panacea for Iowa in this game. Jack Nunge led Iowa with 18 points on 6/12 shooting in 21 minutes of work. 10 of those points came in the second half when the game was out of reach, but he had eight in the first half and gave Iowa some good minutes. Jordan Bohannon was the only other Iowa player in double figures with 11 points on 4/11 shooting (3/8 from deep) to go with five assists. Tyler Cook had just eight points on 4/9 shooting, his first time being held to single digits in the last seven games and just the fourth time in Big Ten play he's failed to crack double digits. He also had four turnovers, so this was a pretty lousy day for Cook. Luka Garza also had eight points on 4/9 shooting and four rebounds in 24 minutes, while Isaiah Moss had seven points on 2/7 shooting.
Another forgettable performance in what's become a very forgettable season. The season is pretty much a lost cause overall at this point, but it would be nice to at least see some encouraging performances. Unfortunately, those have been few and far between -- and this was not one of them.
NEXT: Iowa heads to Ann Arbor to take on #20 Michigan (19-7, 8-5 Big Ten) on Valentine's Day this Wednesday (5:30 PM CT, BTN).