Columbus, Ohio — Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann warned his team to avoid a letdown after his team’s upset of No. 3 Purdue.
A letdown at this point for the Buckeyes would be as hard to imagine as them owning sole possession of first place of the Big Ten in mid-February.
That’s where they are after Keita Bates-Diop had 14 points and eight rebounds in No. 14 Ohio State’s 82-64 victory over Iowa on Saturday.
Hot shooting at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second propelled Ohio State (22-5, 13-1) to an insurmountable lead against the Hawkeyes (12-15, 3-11).
Kaleb Wesson added 18 points and C.J Jackson scored 14 for the Buckeyes. With Michigan State’s win over Purdue earlier Saturday, the Buckeyes are alone in first place in the conference.
“We still kind of control our destiny at this point,” Ohio State forward Micah Potter said. “We were still motivated, just motivated.”
Following a 7-0 Iowa run that put the Hawkeyes up 18-15, Ohio State rattled off an 8-0 run of its own with a second-chance layup and two layups in transition after forcing turnovers on three straight possessions. Ohio State made eight of its final 10 shots to end the half, which included four 3s to take a 42-32 lead into the break.
The prolific shooting spilled into the early moments of the second half for the Buckeyes. Jae’Sean Tate drove the baseline to find Jackson in the opposite corner for a 3, then drilled a rare 3 of his own to highlight a 14-0 run and extend the lead to 18 with 15:49 left as the sellout crowd of 18,809 fans roared for one of college basketball’s most surprising teams this season. Ohio State’s largest lead was 29.
“I thought we were good offensively for the whole game,” Holtmann said. “Moved the ball, shared it, made the right pass at the right time. Had a few too many turnovers, but I thought offensively we were really good. I thought we were much better defensively in the second half.”
Iowa hung around in the first half with 50 percent shooting, but shot just 35.5 percent in the second half as the Buckeyes piled onto their lead.
Iowa’s top scorer Tyler Cook had just eight points, and second-leading scorer Jordan Bohannon had 11.
“A lot of teams are coming to double (Cook). They sent some guys on him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He took a couple perimeter shots. We tried to run some things for him, but that had him pretty jammed up in there.”
For the final 6:36 of the game, Bates-Diop, Jackson and Tate all sat the bench for added rest.
Ohio State — a team mostly picked preseason to finish in the bottom third of the league — is leading the Big Ten with just four games left in the season. Iowa, largely picked to finish in the top half of the league, has tumbled to a nearly guaranteed below-.500 team. The difficult part here forward for the Buckeyes will be maintaining the conference lead with three road games left.
The Buckeyes are a full game ahead of No. 3 Purdue and No. 4 Michigan State in the Big Ten standings and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams. The Buckeyes do not play either team in their four remaining games.
The Hawkeyes have lost three straight games and sit two games behind 10th place in the Big Ten, meaning they would be one of four teams to play on the first day of the conference tournament.
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(At) Maryland 73, Northwestern 57: Kevin Huerter scored 22 points, Anthony Cowan Jr. added 16 and Maryland never trailed.
The Terrapins (17-10, 6-8 Big Ten) made their first six shots and got 12 points from Huerter in bolting to 19-8 lead. After the Wildcats closed to 54-46 with 10 minutes left, Maryland used a 14-1 run to pull away.
Darryl Morsell had 14 points and nine rebounds for Maryland, which improved to 14-2 at home. The Terrapins had lost six of their previous eight games overall.
Coming off an uplifting victory over No. 20 Michigan, the Wildcats (15-11, 6-7) fell behind by 11 points with six minutes elapsed and never cut the deficit under seven.
Scottie Lindsey scored 20 and Dererk Pardon had 12 for Northwestern. Bryant McIntosh, who scored 24 against the Wolverines, was blanked for the first time this season on 0-for-5 shooting.
The Terrapins shot 52 percent, made half their attempts from 3-point range and blocked five shots to go up 36-29 at the half.
After Huerter helped Maryland take control in the opening minutes, Cowan and Dion Wiley connected from beyond the arc to start a 10-2 run that made it 32-16.
Though the second half has proven troublesome for the Terrapins this season, there would be no letdown. Maryland scored the first seven points after halftime to go up by 14, and the Wildcats never threatened after that.
(At) Nebraska 67, Rutgers 55: Isaiah Roby had 10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots and Nebraska opened up 16-point leads in both halves and didn’t let Rutgers get closer than 10 points in the last 14 minutes.
Nebraska (19-8, 10-4) won its seventh Big Ten conference game in its last eight tries. Rutgers (12-15, 2-11) has now lost seven consecutive conference games.
Nebraska used a 10-0 run capped by a pair of Isaac Copeland jumpers to take a 48-32 lead with 14:35 remaining. Then, as they had in the first half, the Scarlet Knights surged back with three straight baskets, cutting the Nebraska lead to 10 on Corey Sanders’ basket with 12:15 remaining.
The Huskers responded with a 15-6 run to take a 63-44 lead on Isaiah Roby’s coast-to-coast layup with 6:31 left. Rutgers scored the game’s final six points against the Huskers reserves to cut the final margin to 12.
Nebraska’s swarming man-to-man defense held Rutgers to just 35 percent shooting for the game. Nebraska hit 45 percent of its shots and outscored Rutgers by nine from the free-throw line.
James Palmer, Jr. led Nebraska in scoring with 15 points. Copeland and Glynn Watson, Jr. scored 11 points each for the Huskers.
Sanders finished with 14 points to lead Rutgers. Deshawn Freeman added 12 points and Eugene Omoruyi had 11 points.