Thad Matta was pleased with how his team executed its game plan Tuesday night in a 76-69 win at Iowa…
It's starting to look that way.
Three days after beating Wisconsin in Madison, the Ohio State men's basketball team (18-5, 5-5) continued its winning ways on the road, handing No. 17 Iowa (17-6, 6-4) an 76-69 loss in Iowa City. Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft led the way for OSU with 17 points, six assists and six steals, in what was the Buckeyes' second victory over a ranked team in as many games.
The Hawkeyes entered the second half leading by a 33-31 score, but Iowa's advantage didn't last for long. Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit a three to put OSU by a 36-34 margin, but Roy Devyn Marble tied the game back up two minutes later with a layup.
Smith quickly answered back with another three, which was assisted by Craft and gave the Buckeyes the final lead of the night. Ohio State stretched its lead to nine points with 6:18 remaining in the game, but Iowa wouldn't go down without a fight.
Five straight points from the Hawkeyes cut the Buckeyes' advantage to four, but Ohio State answered back with a 5-0 run of its own thanks to a dunk from Amir Williams and a 3-point jumper from Sam Thompson. Iowa then came back with five more points of its, but Craft took the game into his own hands, scoring on a layup and a free throw before Smith, Thompson, LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott all helped close the game out from the free throw line.
The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes played each other through the first 14 minutes, with neither team grabbing more than a four-point advantage until Ohio State grabbed a 23-17 lead on a Ross layup. The Buckeyes stretched their lead to as many as nine points in the opening stanza, but Iowa closed the half on a 16-5 run before taking its two-point lead into halftime.
In addition to Craft, the four other Ohio State starters scored at least nine points each, with Ross scoring 13, Smith and Williams each scoring 12 and Thompson adding nine. Guard Mike Gessell led Iowa with 16 points, who had handed the Buckeyes a loss in Columbus on Jan. 12.
Now on a two-game winning streak and having won three of its last four games, OSU will return to action on Saturday, when it hosts Purdue for a 6 p.m. tip.