August 26, 2014

NCAA Basketball: Buckeyes Play Down to Iowa, Crush Them Anyway

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.

(AP Photo / Paul Vernon)

  • mb

    It’s a shame that Matta continues to believe that a six or seven man rotation will win games in the NCAA tourn. I’m not an Ohio State be any means, but if he wants to win against deep, physical teams from, lets say the big east, he’s going to have to play more guys or this will catch up with them.

  • REEPJP

    I noticed big Sully relaxing quite a bit when he was on the floor last night. I understand he’s bigger than most of the guys on the court, but he was almost Shaq’esque on the amount of time it took him to get down the floor and get set. I’ve only seen him play twice (last night and the South Carolina game), and the first time was completely opposite, but I’m not sure if I’d want a slacker, no matter the opponent, being my team’s (Cavs or anyone else for that matter)#1 overall draft pick and cornerstone of the future.

  • Lyon

    Reep, I wouldn’t classify him as a slacker. As someone who’s watched all the games, that’s not they idea I get of him at all.

    Maybe I’ve just missed it, but he seems to hustle most of the time.

    @#1… Matta always goes with the short bench and it seems to work pretty good for him. Not too many teams play 10 guys late in the season.

  • mb

    It works good for him? With the recruiting classes Matta has been getting he better start making a few elite eights or final fours soon. There are quite a few Big East teams that play at least nine guys deep in the year. I know I’m bias towards the Big East. I live in Northeast Ohio and am a fan of Cleveland’s pro teams, but lived in Louisville for 25 yrs and graduated from Louisville, so yes I’m bias. With that being said, Pitino plays 9-11 guys in the NCAA tourn. That has been a staple to help wear down teams and helps at times to make up for talent at different positions. After all this, alot of Ohio State fans I know like the basketball team, but aren’t willing to call for a coach to be fired after a few underachieving years. At Louisville or Kentucky a coach better be looking for a new job if this continued to happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobbykope Robert Kope

    Been saying that Matta can’t (or won’t) coach fundamentals since he got here, but the fans are Matta apologists since they know nothing about basketball fundamentals, so don’t know what to L@@K for. He recruits some of the best teams in the country (and has made a final four, so… ) but his teams can’t box out, set picks, etc. Imagine if Sullinger knew how to set a pick (he’s pathetic). With that big frame, he’d be a force at the top o’ the key and on baseline.

    Never have said he should be fired, but should be called out on this and hire a freaking assistant to run some fundamentals drills. You see what happens to guys – Kouffus, etc – who don’t have the athleticism of Lighty, Oden, etc. They get out just so they can LEARN how to play. Sad; isn’t that what COLLEGE is for?!