BREAKING NEWS: winning is fun!
Iowa kept the fun alive with a 72-62 win over No. 16 Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, pushing the Hawkeyes' record to 14-3 (3-3) and likely sealing a return to the Top 25 after being edged out this week. Luka Garza led all scorers with 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting, and Tyler Cook added 15 points before a late ankle injury forced him out of action.
Iowa came into the game with a clear plan: pound the ball inside and force Ohio State into foul trouble. It worked quickly; the Buckeyes' Extremely Large Human Kaleb Wesson, who averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds coming into the game, committed two fast fouls and was hampered all game long. He finished with just two points and five turnovers to go with his four fouls, and he only played 23 minutes.
Without much OSU depth on the interior, Iowa's bigs feasted. In addition to the 31 combined points from Garza and Cook to lead the way, Ryan Kriener added 11 points on just seven shots from the field, including a three-pointer that led to the image you see at the top of this post and which is already automatically our favorite Ryan Kriener photo of all time.
Iowa was never seriously threatened for most of the second half—the Buckeyes' last lead was 30-28 and OSU never got closer than six points during the last 10 minutes of the game—but the game was easily in doubt during the first half. Both Iowa and Ohio State played sloppy, ugly basketball before the break, leading to a mere 26-24 halftime tally. The Hawkeyes managed just five points off 11 first-half turnovers, and that's about all you need to know about how that went.
In the second half, though, the Hawkeyes shut off the turnover spigot, made high-quality shots and played with the intensity that winning Big Ten teams need. Witness Tyler Cook, erasing this poor young man who thought he had an easy basket waiting for him:
Jordan Bohannon added six points in a relatively light performance for him, but two late free throws pushed Bohannon to 1,000 career points. Bohannon is the 48th Hawkeye to hit the mark and the third son of Gordy Bohannon to do so; brothers Jason (1,170 points, Wisconsin) and Mike (1,090 points, UNI) achieved the milestone in years past. With Jordan still looking at another season and a half of collegiate eligibility, he should eclipse his brothers' totals with ease, barring catastrophe.
Still, the Cook injury is troublesome. Iowa needs his athleticism and motor against this brutal Big Ten slate, and ankle sprains have a way of limiting players long after they're "cleared" to play. If he's not back to 100% within a month, Iowa's season aspirations will likely take a hit.
Iowa has an opportunity to push into positive territory in the Big Ten standings, with a trip to Penn State and a home game against lowly Illinois next on the docket. PSU's no gimme—the Nittany Lions beat Virginia Tech at home—but it's 0-5 in the Big Ten and fading fast.
But for now, this is Iowa's fifth quality win of the season and a reason to celebrate. You know what time it is.
GO IOWA AWESOME.