Last night the Buckeyes took on a 7-10 (0-5 Big Ten) Iowa team at home in Columbus and seemed intent on playing down to their opponent. The game wasn’t even close, because the Buckeyes have so much more talent than Iowa, but it wasn’t a performance befitting a number one team. In the end, the Buckeyes crushed the Hawkeyes 70-48.
Why was I so down on the Buckeyes even as they won big? The Buckeyes forced 22 turnovers from Iowa. They looked really unselfish loading up 18 assists in the box score. The big problem for me was that the Buckeyes committed 20 turnovers themselves. It was a lot of sloppy passing in transition probably as the Buckeyes were feeling the game was in hand. Still, bad habits are hard to break.
No player embodied this more last night than Aaron Craft. Craft was all over the court. He is an ankle biter and he seemed to be stripping and stealing the ball every other possession for a while there in the second half. Craft ends up with an amazing seven steals, but he almost matched that with his five turnovers.
The first half was also characterized by stifling Buckeyes defense and missed Iowa shots. The Buckeyes led early 6-4 and then broke it open to 12-4 holding Iowa scoreless for three straight minutes. That pattern was typical for the rest of the first half.
At the end of the first half Jared Sullinger almost blew the roof off the building as he loaded up a three-quarter court shot. It gave the fans a thrill even as it bounced off the rim and harmlessly away. The Buckeyes were rolling 40-23 at the break, paced by Buford and Lighty with 11 and 8 respectively. The half was characterized by making the extra pass inside leading to easy dunks.
Not David Lighty’s one-handed highlight dunk though. That one wasn’t so easy. Lighty came down the right side of the court froze his defender and headed toward the rim. Jared Sullinger’s defender could have helped, but the super-freshman had him moving away from the rim and somewhat boxed out already. Iowa defenders arrived just in time for the prospective poster shot as David Lighty slammed it home violently.
In the end those kinds of plays proved just how overmatched Iowa was. Lighty finished his night with 18 points while Buford and Sullinger had 15 and 13. Incidentally it is Sullinger’s third straight game without recording a double-double.
The only interesting news for Iowa was the play of Andrew Brommer off the bench. Brommer seemed to be the most awake of anyone on Iowa’s team. He scored a team-high 12 points and added 6 rebounds.
Next up for the Buckeyes is a showdown in Illinois on Saturday January 22nd. The Illini are 14-5 and 4-2 in the Big Ten and currently #22 in the nation according to ESPN / USA Today.