COLUMBUS, Ohio - The last time that the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes met Ohio State had to sweat out a tough game that was down to one possession in the final minute. On Wednesday night the game was never in question as both teams were sloppy with the ball committing a combined 43 turnovers but David Lighty had 18 points while freshman Jared Sullinger had 13 points and nine boards en route to a 70-48 win over Iowa (7-11, 0-6) for Ohio State (19-0, 6-0) to stay perfect on the year.
William Buford had 15 points and Aaron Craft set a Buckeye freshman record with seven steals. Andrew Brommer came off of the bench to lead the Hawkeyes with 12 points while starters Jarryd Cole and Eric May were each held scoreless.
The Buckeyes got off to a quick start behind Dallas Lauderdale who ended up with nine points on the night but was responsible for the first two buckets with uncontested dunks off of assists from Buford and Sullinger. The rest of the team felt that they got a big charge from the play of the often maligned big man.
"That gave us a big lift," Lighty said. "He is our key guy in the middle especially in the defensive end and him coming in and rebounding and getting easy buckets and holding down the paint in the middle for us is something that pretty much got us all started."
Ohio State made an emphasis going into the week of practice to work on the fundamentals of defense after allowing an average of 66 points a game in the Big Ten season.
"It was our game plan to come in and play defense for 40 minutes," Lighty added. "It is something that we haven't been doing lately and it is something that we have been keying on. In the beginning of the year we were playing great defense, team defense, and we have kind of been slacking the last couple of weeks."
The Hawkeyes went into long droughts without scoring and that was not going to get it done in front of a hostile crowd and going against a team that was favored by 20 points going into the night.
"Obviously we didn't have the energy necessary when you play the No. 1 team," Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said after the game. "(Ohio State's) defensive effort at the beginning of the game was great. We didn't get off to a good start offensively which you need to get into a flow."
Wednesday's game had a much different feel than the first meeting that most Ohio State fans didn't see going up opposite of the football team in the Sugar Bowl. Iowa was the first team that the Buckeyes played twice this season and for most of the freshmen on the team it was a new situation to be in.
"I think we went into Iowa thinking that we could just go out and play and that definitely is not the case in Big Ten play," Craft said. "We came out here knowing we had to play harder."
Even with all of the positives that happened in the game the turnovers will be what most people will remember when looking back on this game. The ball handling did not seem to fit the ranking of being the No. 1 team in the nation. But Matta seemed only to be mildly concerned after the game.
"It hasn't been a problem all year," Matta said. "I think we have done a great job of taking care of the basketball. Tonight may be the first time all season that we have been negative assist to turnover."
But was it a case of the Iowa defense turning the Buckeyes over or something else entirely?
"I think we felt comfortable but I think it was just us giving the ball away and turning the ball over," Lighty said. "I don't think that too many of them were forced. It was just bad passes on our end and it is something that we have to take care of. I don't think it is something that we have to worry about, just don't let it happen again."
Another thing of note was the fact that the Buckeyes have seen several leads evaporate late in games when it appeared that everything was in hand. Matta made sure to take a moment to impose a teaching lesson to his team.
"I told them at the under eight minute (timeout) that, 'Here we are. We have been here before and let's see what we can do with it.' Obviously we weren't very good offensively so the defense kept defending," Matta said.
You will never find a coach or a player that will say that the team played a perfect team but Lighty took a stab at grading the team after the game.
"(On the offensive end) we executed but we need to just take care of the ball like we said and that was something that I would give us a C in," Lighty said. "With defense I would give us a B-plus. There are little things like easy layups that we gave toward the end of the game and to start the game off."
Ohio State will need to bring something closer to its A game on Saturday with a 12pm tip against the Illini.