When a team is on the road in a hostile environment, college basketball coaches typically look to their seniors to lead the way.
That was the case Tuesday night in Iowa City, Iowa, as Ohio State senior guard Aaron Craft did a little bit of everything to help lead his team to its second straight road win, defeating No. 17 Iowa, 76-69.
Craft finished with a game-high 17 points, recorded six steals, dished out six assists and delivered a crucial driving layup with 1:21 remaining while getting fouled. His free throw put the Buckeyes (18-5, 5-5) up, 66-59, but Iowa would not go away.
The Hawkeyes (17-6, 6-4) cut the lead to four after a free throw by senior forward Zach McCabe with 54 seconds left, but they never got that close again.
The battery of junior guard Shannon Scott, junior forwards LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson and senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. combined to make 10 of 12 free throws after the lead was cut to four to help seal the win for the Buckeyes, who won their second straight game against a top 20 opponent — following up a 59-58 victory at then-No. 14 Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.
The Buckeyes shot 25-49 from the field in the game, including 7-16 from beyond the arc. Their perimeter defense proved to be the difference, as Iowa shot just 3-20 from deep.
After trailing, 33-31, at halftime, OSU took the lead for good after Smith Jr. buried a three from the wing with 18:39 remaining. Smith Jr. finished with 12 points, one of five OSU guys to score in double figures including Craft, Ross with 13, junior center Amir Williams with 12 and Scott with 11.
Sophomore guard Mike Gesell led the Hawkeyes with 16 points, and junior center Gabriel Olaseni added 14 off the bench.
After the two straight road wins, OSU is set to come home Saturday and take on Purdue (13-9, 3-6). The Buckeyes last beat the Boilermakers, 78-69, Dec. 31 in West Lafayette, Ind. Tipoff for Saturday is set for 6 p.m.
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