Iowa City, Iowa — Iowa and Ohio State are trending in completely different directions.
That’s great news for the Hawkeyes — and terrible news for the suddenly scuffling Buckeyes.
Luka Garza scored 16 points, Tyler Cook had 15 points with eight rebounds and Iowa rolled past No. 16 Ohio State 72-62 on Saturday, handing the Buckeyes their third straight loss.
Ryan Kriener scored 11 points for the Hawkeyes (14-3, 3-3 Big Ten), who have won three straight after a 0-3 start to league play.
“We’ve obviously got a lot of work to do and a lot to improve on,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.
That was painfully evident in a tough road environment in Iowa City.
Iowa used a 9-0 run early in the second half to seize control, and Joe Wieskamp put Iowa ahead 53-41 with four straight free throws.
Wieskamp had gotten to the line by drawing star Kaleb Wesson’s fourth foul, which came with 8:23 left. Wesson was held to a season-low two points on 1 of 5 shooting.
“If you let Kaleb Wesson catch it deep, he’s going to get 25,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I wasn’t expecting him to get two. But I didn’t want him to get 20.”
The flummoxed Buckeyes (12-4, 2-3) then threw a zone at Iowa, and Isaiah Moss drilled an open 3 to make it 59-45. But Iowa’s raucous crowd went silent after Cook — who missed Wednesday’s win at Northwestern with a sore knee — appeared to hurt his left ankle and was taken to the locker room with 4:08 left.”
“He’s a little sore,” McCaffery said of Cook. “We’ll see how he does in the next couple of days.”
Ohio State’s C.J. Jackson, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.1 points, didn’t start for the first time this season. He has been dealing with leg cramps and finished with 10 points before fouling out with 20 seconds to go.
Andre Wesson had 13 points for Ohio State, which committed a season-high 21 turnovers.
The Buckeyes got just two points from Wesson and Jackson in the first half — and led by two anyway. But Ohio State couldn’t hang with the Hawkeyes with Wesson and Jackson in so much foul trouble. “They’re a little bit bigger and longer than they’ve been,” Holtmann said of Iowa.
This was about as good as the Hawkeyes had looked all season. They overcame early struggles on the perimeter by pounding it inside. But losing Cook for an extended stretch would be critical.
“We’ve really come together as a group,” McCaffery said. “But we’re not there yet. We’ve got to keep going.”
More Big Ten
(At) Minnesota 88, Rutgers 70: Amir Coffey scored 29 points to lead a balanced scoring attack as Minnesota defeated Rutgers.
Jordan Murphy scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Dupree McBrayer scored 15 points and added 10 assists, and freshman Gabe Kalscheur scored 11 points for Minnesota (13-3, 3-2 Big Ten), which put the game away with a 14-1 run midway through the second half.
Myles Johnson scored a career-high 13 and Geo Baker also scored 13 points for the Scarlet Knights (8-7, 1-4), who were playing without their leading scorer and rebounder, Eugene Omoruyi, who was out with a knee injury.
“We’re down a lot of players, but no excuse – you’ve still got to take away the strength of another team,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “Their two biggest strengths were getting to the free throw line and transition, and we didn’t do a great job taking away either.”
After scoring just eight points in the first half, Coffey exploded for nine in the first six minutes of the second half. He finished the day 10-for-14 from the field — including 9-for-10 from inside the 3-point line — and made 8 of 10 free throws. Coffey is averaging 23.4 points in Minnesota’s five conference games this year.
But Rutgers stayed in the game thanks in large part to the play of their big men. Johnson, a 6-foot-10 freshman, and 6-9 Shaq Carter went toe-to-toe with Murphy, the nation’s second-leading rebounder at 12.0 boards per game. Johnson pulled down eight rebounds while Carter added eight points and six boards, part of the 40 points Rutgers scored in the paint.
“We’re definitely down a couple guys,” Johnson said. “But the next man up is going to be ready to step up, and I’m trying to do my best to step up.”
In the end, it wasn’t enough to slow Minnesota in the second half when the Golden Gophers took control on both ends of the court.
“No matter what happened down the stretch, even if they made a couple of shots we were able to answer back and get a few stops and get a few rebounds we really needed,” Murphy said.