The drought has come to a merciful end for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes snapped their five-game losing streak Saturday with a resurgent performance that led to a 93-77 win over Iowa at home. The Hawkeyes were riding the Big Ten’s second-longest winning streak (four games) into the weekend. It was Ohio State’s first win since New Year’s Day.
Ohio State mounted a double-digit lead in the first half, and even though Iowa made up ground before halftime, the Buckeyes built another significant edge early in the second half. Isaac Likekele was crucial to the improved effort for the Buckeyes, as the Oklahoma State transfer had a season-best scoring performance as an X-factor in the victory.
Likekekle finished with 18 points and Brice Sensabaugh led the way for Ohio State with a career-high 27. After shooting under 40% from the floor in each of their past three games, the Buckeyes hit well over 50% of their shots against the Hawkeyes.
Iowa entered the game with the highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten, but couldn’t overwhelm Ohio State on a day when its own offense got back in a groove.
The game began with six combined turnovers for both sides before either team hit a shot. Ohio State broke the ice, but Iowa rattled off eight straight points after that as the Buckeyes missed five of their first six shots.
Isaac Likekele’s first 3-point make of the season tied things up 13-all at the 12:19 mark, and 16 seconds later, the Buckeyes began a 15-2 run to take a double-digit lead around the midway point of the first half. Ohio State scored the first 12 of those points without an answer from the Hawkeyes, and the Buckeyes knocked down three 3-pointers as part of the stretch.
Ohio State led by as many as 11 points in the period, but Iowa started chipping away at the Buckeye lead straight away. The Hawkeyes outscored Ohio State 20-12 in the final 8:48, although both teams closed the half out with scoring droughts that lasted longer than three minutes.
The Buckeyes took a 37-35 lead to halftime despite missing six of their final seven shots. Ohio State hit 46.7% of its field goals while the Hawkeyes made just 41.4% of their attempts, although Iowa had the advantage in rebounding (19-15), points in the paint (16-14) and free-throw attempts (7-4).
Brice Sensabaugh had a double-digit scoring total before the end of the first half and Likekele may have had his best offensive half of the season, adding seven points as a pleasant surprise for the Buckeyes.
Iowa hit two of the first three shots of the period, but it was all Ohio State after that, as the Buckeyes used a 9-0 run to take a 10-point lead by the 16:20 mark. Sensabaugh scored six of Ohio State’s first 12 points to open the half.
|36-64 (56.3%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||27-60 (45.0%)|
|8-16 (50%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||11-24 (45.8%)|
|13-17 (76.5%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||12-14 (85.7%)|
The Hawkeyes knocked down three 3-pointers in a two-minute span to try to cut into the deficit, but Ohio State had an answer after every Iowa make. Iowa actually hit five of its seven shot attempts from 15:29 to 11:36. Every step of the way, though, the Buckeyes just kept on scoring right along with their opponent.
Likekele didn’t slow down at all on offense in the second half. When he wasn’t scoring, Likekele racked up boards and assists, dishing to Roddy Gayle for a two-handed dunk on a no-look pass that kept Ohio State up 10 with the clock ticking under the eight-minute mark.
Less than a minute later, Sensabaugh drained a three from the top of the arc to dig the hole even deeper for the Hawkeyes. Zed Key made back-to-back shots in the next 76 seconds to put Ohio State up 15.
Kris Murray topped the 20-point threshold for the game and scored double-digits in the second half alone, but it wasn’t enough to bring the Hawkeyes back as Ohio State continued to pull away late.
By game’s end, five Buckeyes were double-digit scorers. Justice Sueing (10) hit that mark for the first time in three games after coming off the bench for the first time this season while Key (11) and Sean McNeil (10) also joined Sensabaugh and Likekele in double figures.
- McNeil was listed as a game-time decision ahead of tip-off due to a dental emergency, but wound up entering the game at the 14:34 mark and played 24 minutes.
- Both McNeil and Justice Sueing started the game on the bench for the first time this season for Ohio State. The Buckeyes used a first-time starting lineup with Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Isaac Likekele, Brice Sensabaugh and Zed Key all getting the nod. It was the first start of Gayle’s career.
- Ohio State lost its previous two matchups with Iowa, including last season’s 75-62 Hawkeye win at the Schott on Feb. 19, 2022.
- Likekele, who finished with a season-high point total, hadn’t scored more than nine points as a Buckeye before Saturday.
- Key needed help getting off the floor with 21.5 seconds remaining after going down clutching his knee late in the game.