COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A handful of big plays erased an afternoon of mistakes as Ohio State rallied to stun No. 8 Iowa 68-64 on Sunday.
Marc Loving, Kam Williams and Keita Bates-Diop all scored in double figures for the Buckeyes, and all three had big plays down the stretch as they finished the game on a 12-2 run.
“To put it in perspective, this was a great win because, a, we won the game, but b, how we had to win it,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “Being down and fighting and scraping and clawing. We came together. Timeouts got electric. The huddles on the floor were electric.”
He was especially encouraged because the Buckeyes won for the first time after losing spiritual leader Jae’Sean Tate to a season-ending shoulder injury. They were humbled 81-62 by No. 6 Michigan State on the same floor five days earlier in their first game without Tate.
“That (energy is) something a guy like Jae’Sean Tate usually brought to the table,” Matta said, adding the team connected with Tate via FaceTime from the locker room after the game.
“I don’t think he’ll remember tomorrow but we did do it,” Matta said.
Multiple Buckeyes were indispensable down the stretch.
Loving hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with less than 2 seconds to go to finish with 25 points and ice the game.
Bates-Diop added 19 points and preserved a two-point lead for Ohio State (19-11, 11-6 Big Ten) by blocking Mike Gesell’s layup with under 5 seconds to go.
Williams gave the Buckeyes a 63-62 lead with a jumper with 2:04 left after Iowa led for most of the second half.
The last of his 11 points came on a 3-pointer a little over a minute later to stretch Ohio State’s lead to four.
The Buckeyes won despite committing 15 turnovers – all in the first 25 minutes of the game.
“I’m just proud of our overall team effort,” Williams said. “Everybody stepped up in a big way this game, especially after all the turnovers. It’s good to see us keep fighting possession after possession and we got a good result.”
Gesell and Jarrod Uthoff led Iowa (20-8, 11-5) with 16 points apiece while Peter Jok had 12.
The Hawkeyes had a 62-56 lead after Gesell’s layup with 4:07 to go, but Williams started Ohio State’s comeback with a jumper on the next possession.
“Everything went wrong,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, who spoke for less than two minutes after the game. “We didn’t execute, we didn’t defend, we didn’t rebound.”
He had no problem with the 6-foot-2 Gesell going to the basket at the end against 6-8 Bates-Diop.
“He had plenty of options,” McCaffery said. “He chose to drive it. I thought he made a good play there.”
Iowa: The Hawkeyes lost their third straight game and fell to 5-5 on the road this season.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes won for the fifth time in their last six games and kept slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive by picking up their second win of the season over a Top 10 team. They beat then-No. 4 Kentucky in December but had no other wins over ranked opponents.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“As you all know I’m a pretty confident basketball player so I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing no matter what,” said Williams, who was scoreless until the 8:08 mark. “If I’m 0 for 10, I’m gonna keep doing what I do.”
Iowa hosts No. 18 Indiana on Tuesday.
Ohio State plays at No. 6 Michigan State on Saturday.