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Hawkeyes come up short against second-ranked Buckeyes

Posted on 05. Jan, 2011 by in Iowa Basketball

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa — For the majority of Tuesday’s contest between Iowa and No. 2 Ohio State, the Hawkeyes gave the Buckeyes all they could possibly handle.

It just wasn’t enough.

Ohio State managed to escape Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 73-68 win thanks in large part to a key 16-0 run in the second half. The Buckeye victory keeps Ohio State undefeated at 15-0 and 2-0 in the Big Ten. As for Iowa, the Hawkeyes fell back to .500 at 7-7 and are now 0-2 in conference action.

Neither head coach Fran McCaffery nor any players would accept any moral victory from the outcome, but the former did acknowledge the strides he felt Iowa has made as a result of being neck-and-neck with the nation’s second-ranked team.

“This is as good a team as I’ve watched in a long time. They’ve got a number of different weapons,” McCaffery said afterwards about Ohio State. “We had an opportunity and a shot at them. We fought them, and hopefully we learned and got better.”

One of those weapons McCaffery was referring to was freshman forward Jared Sullinger, who finished with a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes. However, Iowa had a freshman forward of its own who held his own against the future NBA lottery pick in the mold of Melsahn Basabe.

After battling illness the past two games, Basabe was healthy Tuesday night and it showed. The Glen Cove, N.Y., native had a career-high 22 points for the Hawkeyes, as well as 13 rebounds.

In fact, Basabe and senior center Jarryd Cole, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, were the early catalysts for Iowa. Not only were they both productive offensively, but defensively as well rotating on Sullinger.

“We knew that in order to be successful, we were going to have to stop Sullinger and also be a force ourselves,” Cole said. “One of those things happened. We were able to use our ability to be successful on the offensive end and also on the glass. But we couldn’t do enough to stop Sullinger tonight.”

Iowa played ahead for most of the first half, and even took a 35-29 halftime lead after junior guard Bryce Cartwright nailed his fifth first-half buzzer-beater of the season.

“It’s just a timely situation,” said Cartwright, whose other four final first-half shots came against SIU-Edwardsville, Iowa State, Drake, and Illinois. “I have had some success with that, I will say that.”

But the second half was when some of the bugaboos Iowa has had this season began to resurface. Junior guard Matt Gatens nailed a 3-pointer to give the Hawkeyes a 45-42 lead, and the aforementioned 16-0 run by the Buckeyes occurred. Just like that, Iowa fell behind 58-45.

“In the first half when we didn’t score, we got offensive rebounds,” McCaffery said. “In the second half when we didn’t score, they scored and then we were turning the ball over. So we’ve got to shore up our defense and make sure we come down and get a good shot.”

The Hawkeyes slowly chipped away at Ohio State’s lead and even got it down to 71-68 with 21.5 seconds remaining. Ohio State freshman guard Aaron Craft would sink two free throws, and the Buckeyes would run out the clock following an Iowa turnover in the game’s final moments.

“I really believe that we are a really good team,” Basabe said. “I think we now need to go in with the attitude of not worrying about getting blown out or how potent the other team is. We need to attack and they need to worry about us.

“We need to go out and execute game plans if we want to win, and do the little things to win the game.”

Looking ahead, the Hawkeyes now have three of their next four games away from home, one of which is the grudge match with Ohio State at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 19. Iowa’s next contest is on Jan. 9 at No. 11 Purdue. It is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Central and will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network.

The Hawkeyes know going into Mackey Arena and playing with another ranked team in Purdue won’t be an easy task, even after taking teams such as Ohio State and Illinois to the brink.

“These last two games, we’ve been right there against these ranked teams,” Gatens said. “We just need to get over that hill and beat these teams. Now, we know that we can. We’re right there. We just need to finish it out and keep working.”

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