Thomas scores 16 as Ohio State hangs on, 72-63
By RUSTY MILLER
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Almost no one for No. 14 Ohio State was thrilled with the way they played Tuesday night.
Still, the Buckeyes will take the outcome.
Deshaun Thomas, who missed part of the second half with a cut above his eye, scored 16 points and Ohio State built a 24-point lead and then hung on to beat Iowa 72-63.
"We're happy we got the win, but we're not happy with the way we got the win," post player Evan Ravenel said.
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. He had to get what a team spokesman said was six or seven stitches to close it.
His absence came at a time when the Buckeyes (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten) seemed to lose their focus. A majority of it was Iowa contesting every play and fighting back, but it was as if they were content to just ride out the final few minutes and hope for the best.
"We didn't do it the prettiest way. We didn't finish it the way we wanted to," said point guard Aaron Craft, who set Ohio State's career mark for steals in the game. "But we got the win. We found a way to fight and get the win."
The Buckeyes led 53-29 after Ravenel hit a free throw with 12:48 left. Most in a crowd of 16,040 were itching to head for the exits and beat the rush.
Slowly but surely, however, Iowa (13-6, 2-4) knifed into the lead.
"A lot of times teams don't have the maturity or the patience to try to chip away," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "That's what we did. We got it under 20, then we got it under 15, we got it under 10, we got it under 5."
He said it's important for teams to know they can't erase such a big lead quickly.
"We got a couple of turnovers, we got a couple of runouts, a couple of easy baskets, and we got to the free throw line," he said. "That's how you have to do it. You can't just start jacking 3s. It's got to be easy baskets, free throws and an occasional 3."
Aaron White, an Ohio native playing his first college game in his home state, hit the second of two foul shots with 1:30 left to cut the once huge lead down to just 63-49.
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 and end the threat.
"I do think in the league we're in right now you take your wins and semi-celebrate them," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "By the same token, you've got to look at things and say, `OK, how do we get better?'"
Matta said his team was exhausted by the finish, most likely because he had pushed it hard the past two weeks to get off to a good start in the difficult Big Ten.
Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. each had 12 points and Ravenel added 11 for Ohio State. Center Amir Williams had a strange stat line: six blocked shots and no rebounds to go with two points.
The victory 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.
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).
Ohio State scored the final six points of the first half to take a 34-22 lead and then stretched the streak to 10-0 on baskets by Craft and Thomas. It appeared that the rout was on.
"We dug a little bit too big of a hole," said Iowa's Mike Gesell. "We tried to battle back and we just fell a little bit short. We just have to come out stronger in the first half."
Although displeased with the wild swings in momentum in the game, Craft said the bottom line was the most important thing.
"A win is a win in conference play. That's a big one to try to keep us in the hunt," he said. "There's still a lot of basketball to play, but in this league you have to protect home court."
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap
Updated January 23, 2013
We check in for our weekly update from Bill Belichick and get his take on the Pats win over the Texans on the road, the benching of Stevan Ridley, and Antonio Smith's thinly veiled Spygate comments after the Texans lost.
Patriots’ defensive end, Rob Ninkovich, joins Mut and Merloni on a Patriots Monday after the team’s victory in Houston. Rob addresses the postgame comments of Texans’ defensive lineman Antonio Smith and the defense struggling against the run.
Tom Brady joined the show fresh off the teams 9th win of the season in Houston. He dismissed Antonio Smith's spying allegations and told the guys he has already moved on.
Eagle checks in to give Grande and Max a perspective on the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade earlier this summer. He breaks down what he thinks the future holds for the Nets after completing this blockbuster deal.
Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell take some time and look back at the history between the Celtics and the Lakers, specifically the legendary rivalry between Magic and Bird. Legendary broadcaster, Ian Eagle, checks in to give the Brooklyn perspective as KG and Paul Pierce settle into their new home. Sean and Max also reveal the behind the scenes details surrounding Max’s famous “I got the ball” moment.
In the first hour of this edition of the Celtics Summer Cooler, Grande and Max analyze the trade that sent Fab Melo out of Boston. Also in this hour, Max sets the story straight about his history with Larry Bird.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier talk with Jon Lester about contract negotiations, losing a teammate like Jacoby Ellsbury, the World Series run, and looking ahead to 2014.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier are back witht he Hot Stove Show. They talk about Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the New York Yankees, the Red Sox signings of AJ Pierzynski and Edward Mujica, and wrap it up with Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester, who talks about the World Series run, losing a teammate like Ellsbury and looking towards 2014.
The Red Sox new catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, joined the show to discuss his reputation as the most hated man in baseball. He also said that he turned down multi-year deals to come and win in Boston.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed the teams long layoff leading into their game tomorrow night in Montreal. He told the guys that he anticipates fighting being a part of hockey for years to come.
Lucic joins Danny Picard to talk some hockey after the team’s overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Danny asks Lucic about David Krejci’s game winner yesterday and hockey outsiders that are trying to change the game.
Shawn Thornton joined the show fresh off his big night at MSG and talked about his recent goal scoring prowess. Shawn said that no matter who his line mates are he is always going to be a fourth liner.
Kirk Minihane answered any and all questions from the listeners and John and Gerry.
The New York Post's Joel Sherman joined the show with his thoughts on jacoby Ellsbury's signing with the Yankees. He said that if it were up to him he would have given the money to Robinson Cano over Ellsbury.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. They discussed how Ron Burgundy has officially jumped the shark and played sound of him on Dan Patrick.
Peter King joins Mut and Merloni to go across the NFL and address the latest news. He discusses Kubiak's firing, Tomlin's fine, and Dennard's possible suspension.
Brick makes his weekly appearance on Mut and Merloni and discusses the Bruins loss to Montreal and the hit on Johnny Boychuck.
Michael Fabiano, fantasy expert and Yankees fan, gives his opinion on the Cano signing, discusses Julian Edelman's rising fantasy value, and actually suggests starting Ryan Fitzpatrick
We check in with Herm Edwards on the Pats, Stevan Ridley, and a great many things around the NFL.
We stir up a pot of crap when we debate the world cup and the popularity of soccer... pro callers, con-callers, plus Jack Edwards!
We tackle four topics at 4PM.
Ryder talks with WEEI.com's Chris Price about the Patriots upcoming game with the Cleveland Browns, and Stevan Ridley's status on the team.
Alex joins the show and gives his thoughts on the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, and what prospects the Red Sox have to fill the hole left in the lineup, or trade pieces to get a player who can fill the void.
John talks to Rob and gets his thoughts on the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox signing AJ Pierzynski, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with Miami.
Mike Lupica of the Daily News joined the show to give the New York reaction to the Ellsbury signing. He said that the Yankees drastically overpaid.More from this show
The Red Sox new catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, joined the show to discuss his reputation as the most hated man in baseball. He also said that he turned down multi-year deals to come and win in Boston.More from this show
Johnny Damon joins Mut and Merloni to clear the air about his free agent signing with the Yankees and discusses Ellsbury's signing.More from this show
Buster Olney joins Mut and Merloni to discuss Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees and the possibility of the Red Sox trading for Andre Ethier.More from this show