COLUMBUS, Ohio – Deshaun Thomas, who missed part of the second half with a cut above his eye, scored 16 points and No. 14 Ohio State built a big lead and then held on to beat Iowa 72-63 on Tuesday night.
Thomas, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 21 points per game, sat out about 3 minutes while an open cut over his right eye was bandaged.
The Buckeyes (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten) led by 24 points with under 13 minutes left but watched as Iowa cut the lead to four with 1:30 remaining.
Aaron White, an Ohio native playing his first college game in his home state, had 13 points for Iowa (13-6, 2-4).
Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. both had 12 points and Evan Ravenel added 11 for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes used a 10-0 run bridging halftime to build a 24-point lead. Iowa rallied to draw within five points on White’s bank shot with 2:30 left.
Ohio State missed a shot but rebounded it, before Craft was called for an offensive foul.
White then was fouled and hit the second of two to cut the lead to 63-59 with 1:30 remaining.
Craft added a foul shot with 1:02 left and, after forcing a turnover, Thomas made two more with 52.9 seconds remaining.
Roy Devyn Marble, who had a miserable shooting night for the Hawkeyes, then missed two free throws before Craft made two more to push the lead to 68-59 with 40 seconds left.
The victory finally broke a stalemate in the series, which began in 1915. Each team had won 75 meetings coming in. Ohio State has won eight straight against Iowa and 10 of the last 11. The Hawkeyes haven’t won in Columbus since 2004.
The Hawkeyes’ four Big Ten losses have come to teams ranked in the top 15 – No. 2 Michigan, No. 7 Indiana, No. 13 Michigan State and the 14th-ranked Buckeyes. Those teams came into the week with an overall combined record of 62-10 and 16-5 in the conference.
Ahead by 12 at halftime, Ohio State stepped up the pressure on defense in the opening minutes of the half.
Iowa turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions as Ohio State stretched a 6-0 run to end the half into a 10-0 streak as Craft and Thomas hit shots. That stretched the lead to 38-22.
The Buckeyes led by 24 points with 12:48 remaining before Iowa made it interesting by pressing full court, contesting every shot and making free throws.
Iowa, which had won its last two games, stayed within striking range despite shooting just 25 percent in the opening half.
The Buckeyes took the lead for good when LaQuinton Ross came in and hit a 3 and then a 12-foot jumper to go up 17-13. The lead hovered around five points for several minutes until Ohio State made a late surge.
With the Buckeyes ahead 28-22, Sam Thompson scored inside off an assist from Shannon Scott. At the other end, Ravenel blocked a shot by Basabe.
The Hawkeyes then collapsed in the waning seconds. Scott passed into the lane to Ravenel, who was fouled by Marble as he hit the basket. He missed the foul shot, but Smith leaped between two defenders to retrieve the ball and then bank it in for a 34-22 lead.
One reason Iowa was able to stay close was because of its hard work on the boards. The Hawkeyes grabbed 13 of the first 15 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. By halftime, Ohio State had narrowed the gap to 23-15 on the glass.
Craft set the school’s career mark for steals with 205 when he plucked the ball from White at the 14:25 mark with the Buckeyes leading 10-6. The junior came in sharing the record with Jay Burson (1986-89).
Iowa dropped to 1-3 on opposing teams’ home courts.
The victory followed a curious pattern for Ohio State. Over their last 10 games they have won, won, lost, won, won, lost, won, won, lost and now won.