Thursday night’s docket of Big Ten games saw two squads looking to protect their unblemished conference records, and both the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans were successfully in doing so.
Let’s take a look at how the games played out.
Game of the Night:
-Ohio State Buckeyes 92, Iowa Hawkeyes 81
The Ohio State Buckeyes headed into Iowa City on Thursday looking to remain unbeaten in Big Ten play. Though the contest was tight in spots, particularly in the second half, the Buckeyes took care of business, winning 92-81 and securing their third conference win in as many tries.
“I’m proud of our guys effort here, we battled through some things,” coach Chris Holtmann said postgame. “I thought Iowa did a tremendous job to start the second half and just really came at us. We did not handle that very well at all.”
Iowa forward Tyler Cook sat early with two fouls after having his way against the Buckeyes. When he returned, so did his dominance, and the sophomore big man had 11 points and four rebounds in the first half. The front court duo of Cook and freshman Luka Garza created problems for Ohio State all game, finishing with a combined 36 points and 15 rebounds.
An outside scoring barrage from Kam Williams fueled an early Ohio State advantage, though, as the senior poured in 11 in the first half. The lead swelled to as large as 15, and the Buckeyes would not relinquish it for the remainder of the contest.
Defensively, Ohio State capitalized on an overaggressive Hawkeye attack, consistently drawing charges on slashes to the rim.
But Iowa countered with hyperactive board crashing, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds on the night. A growing trend, the Buckeyes rank 94th nationally in offense rebounds allowed and the Hawkeyes made them pay.
In the second half, Iowa ramped up their press and brought the score to within five. Keita Bates-Diop, however, ensured the Hawkeye run would short lived. The junior scored 18 of his game high 27 in the second frame to close out the win for the Buckeyes. Bates-Diop also chipped in 13 rebounds, finishing with a double-double for the seventh time this season.
“We probably caught them on a night where they missed some shots that they normally make,” Holtmann said. “I give our older guys a lot of credit for being able to stem the tide a little bit when they made a run and make the necessary plays.”
Next for Ohio State is a home matchup with the top ranked Michigan State Spartans on Sunday. The Hawkeyes also play Sunday, heading to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins.
-Michigan State Spartans 91, Maryland Terrapins 61
While the Michigan State Spartans ran the Maryland Terrapins off the floor Thursday, winning 91-61, it was not always a blowout.
Largely on the shoulders of Kevin Huerter and his 14 early points, the Terrapins were knotted up with the Spartans 29-29 with less than six minutes to go in the first half. Huerter, however, would finish the game scoring just two more points.
A 15-3 Michigan State run to close out the first half jumpstarted the eventual 30-point victory. A balanced Spartan attack that saw 16 three-point shots go in just 28 attempts was simply too much for the Terrapins counter. Forward Nick Ward led the way for Michigan State, scoring 16 points, grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots.
The Spartans head to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday, and the Terrapins take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at home on Sunday as well.