Iowa was not going to be denied.
The No. 20 Hawkeyes (14-3, 3-1) had an answer for everything No. 3 Ohio State (15-2, 2-2) threw at them Sunday, dispatching the Buckeyes, 84-74, at the Schottenstein Center.
The loss is the second straight for OSU, which fell to No. 5-ranked Michigan State Tuesday in East Lansing, Mich. It is the first time the Buckeyes have lost back-to-back games since last February, when they fell to then-No. 3 Michigan before coming home and losing to then-No. 1 Indiana.
“Obviously we didn’t make the plays that we needed to maintain the lead and win the basketball game,” OSU coach Thad Matta said after the loss Sunday. “It’s more of the same with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We didn’t have, offensively, the connection we needed for whatever reason. I don’t know what that was.”
After trailing, 37-35, at halftime, the Buckeyes started out quickly in the second half as a 7-0 run early on allowed them to take the lead, 45-41, and forced Iowa to call a timeout.
But a 2-3 zone deployed by Iowa gave the Buckeyes problems as they finished with 17 turnovers, struggling to get things going offensively.
With the game tied at 62 with 6:44 left, OSU took the lead on two free throws by junior center Amir Williams, but an air ball and two turnovers by junior forward LaQuinton Ross allowed Iowa to take a 70-65 lead.
Williams then completed a three-point play to cut the lead to two, but OSU wouldn’t get that close again.
A tip-in by Iowa senior forward Melsahn Basabe followed by a leaning bank shot by junior forward Aaron White extended the Hawkeyes’ lead to six.
OSU senior guard Aaron Craft then missed the front end of a one-and-one and Iowa made enough free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
The Hawkeyes finished with 44 points in the paint, 30 of which came in the first half.
“I don’t think we were talking the way we normally do. We went through a stretch where we did and then they made their run and we kind of stopped,” Craft said after the loss. “There’s probably a few things that we need to get corrected.”
Iowa had four players finish the game in double figures scoring, led by senior guard Roy Devyn Marble with 22. Ross also scored 22 points for the Buckeyes and Williams added 11. The Hawkeyes were able to do what they wanted, though, something Ross said should never happen.
“Coach is telling us this all the time, never let a team take us out of the game and I think that’s what we did tonight,” Ross said.
OSU’s next opportunity to get back to its winning ways is Thursday, as the team is set to travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers (13-4, 2-2). Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.
“We’ve got to find our stride, we’ve got to understand who we are and how we play our best basketball,” Matta said.
Correction: Jan. 12, 2014
A previous version of this article stated OSU played Michigan State Jan. 8, when in fact, the teams played Jan. 7.