While it is still early, the Big Ten has already seen its fair share of surprises. The Ohio State Buckeyes were widely regarding as a bottom half of the conference team. Conversely, the Iowa Hawkeyes were poised to wreak some havoc this season.
Yet here we are, with the Buckeyes hoping to remain unbeaten in conference play, and the Hawkeyes looking to grab their first win.
Let’s take a look at how the games played out.
Game of the Night:
-Ohio State Buckeyes 91, Maryland Terrapins 69
In what had the makings of a perfect trap game, the Ohio State Buckeyes shot their way to a blowout victory over the Maryland Terrapins, 91-69.
Maryland came out strong early, focused on a clear plan of countering Keita Bates-Diop’s athleticism with a steady, physical attack on the interior. Senior center Michal Cekovsky saw success, and when Ohio State tried to adjust, the Terrapins made them pay. The Buckeyes struggled with switching and rotational defense, and Maryland took a 20-13 lead halfway through the first.
Defensively, a Terrapin zone gave Ohio State trouble early, breaking up their rhythm and forcing difficult shots. Unfortunately for Maryland, the Buckeyes were in store for their best three-point shooting performance this season.
In what is quickly becoming a staple this year, the Buckeyes went on a commanding 24-4 run to end the half. They would not relinquish the momentum or lead for the remainder of the contest.
After an effective performance inside the arc in their upset win over the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday, the Buckeyes showcased a dangerous balance on Thursday, doing their damage from the three-point line instead. All said, Ohio State shot a blistering 58.6 percent of their shots from deep, going 17-for-29, both season highs. Additionally, the Buckeyes assisted on 25 of their 32 made field goals.
Bates-Diop, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, dazzled once again, scoring over 25 points for his third consecutive game and fifth time overall.
Next up for Ohio State is a trip to Rutgers on Sunday. Tipoff is at 7 PM ET on the Big Ten Network. The Terrapins head to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines on Monday. That game has a 6:30 PM ET and will air on FS1.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 104, Illinois Fighting Illini 97
The battle for the second worst record in the conference saw the Illinois Fighting Illini host the Iowa Hawkeyes. The game was at times sloppy, at times wild, and others…simply inexplicable. The Hawkeyes hung on longer though, toughing out a 104-97 win over the Illini in overtime.
After taking a 4-2 lead, the Hawkeyes offense froze. With a bevy of turnovers, and subpar shooting, Iowa spent nearly five early minutes held scoreless and looking lost. Yet, the Illini could not completely capitalize, holding a 54-41 lead at half.
Despite the early shooting slump and high turnover count, the Hawkeyes would not go away. The shooting regressed to the mean in the second half, and Iowa dominated in fundamentals all game, going an eye-popping 33-for-40 from the free throw line and outrebounding the Illini 45-26, including a 17-12 advantage on the offensive glass.
But with just 5.1 on the clock and no timeouts, Trent Frazier hit a running three as time expired to send the game to overtime. Curiously, the Hawkeyes elected not to foul and send Frazier to the free-throw line, as they had on the previous possession.
Alas, Iowa pummeled Illinois in the extra frame, outscoring them to the tune of 14-7 en route to their first conference victory.
Tyler Cook lead the way for the Hawkeyes, scoring 21 points, pulling in 13 rebounds and adding three steals and three assists. Additionally, Jordan Bohannon led the team in points with 29, and Luka Garza joined Cook in the double-double club with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Iowa will return to action next week to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway on Wednesday. The game will air on the Big Ten Network, tipping off at 7 PM ET. Illinois will head to Lincoln to take on Nebraska on Monday. Tip-off is at 9 PM ET on the Big Ten Network.