COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some Iowa fans have groused that the Hawkeyes are too soft. In their Big Ten opener, they turned that criticism on its ear.
Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White each scored 18 points to lift the Hawkeyes past No. 20 Ohio State 71-65 Tuesday in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
"We came with an aggressive mindset," Uthoff said. "That was the big key to us winning. We hit the offensive boards, we got to the rim and we got a lot of free throws."
There was no question that the Hawkeyes (10-4, 1-0) were the aggressor, particularly in the opening 4 minutes. They attacked Ohio State's 2-3 zone and the Buckeyes' press, frequently passing behind the defense for easy dunks.
"I have to give credit to Iowa because they played very hard," said Ohio State forward Marc Loving, who had 10 points. "They created a lot of turnovers and we were stagnant in the first half."
The Hawkeyes hit their first five shots from the field, including both 3-pointers, and added 5 of 6 free throws in taking a 17-5 lead in the opening 4 minutes. White, an Ohio native cheered by a throng of family and friends, had seven points and Peter Jok had five in the quick spurt.
The Hawkeyes never trailed after the opening minute, building leads of up to 12 points in the opening half. When Ohio State turned up the pressure late, they played through it and made plays.
Iowa led 43-31 at the half but Ohio State (11-3, 0-1) came back. D'Angelo Russell, the Buckeyes' leading scorer at nearly 18 points a game, returned from sitting out with four fouls and drilled a 3 with 3:25 left to cut the Hawkeyes' lead to 63-60.
But almost immediately, Iowa's Josh Oglesby drove to the heart of the lane and hit a pull-up jumper. After Russell missed another 3, Uthoff took an assist from White and hit a 3 from the right corner to make it 68-60 with just over 2 minutes left.
The Buckeyes, who got 17 points from Sam Thompson and 13 from Russell, never got closer than five points again.
"What we wanted to be able to do today was to play with some toughness," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "Toughness isn't pushing and shoving. Toughness is being able to play through a run, being able to deal with the crowd. Russell hits that 3, cuts it to three, somebody's got to make a play. And Oglesby was phenomenal. Then we get a stop and Jarrod hits the 3 out of the corner. That's what real good teams do, you make plays."
BIG HOLE: According to STATS.com, the Buckeyes' 12-point halftime deficit was their biggest at home since Feb. 17, 2010, when they trailed by 13 to No. 4 Purdue.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: Iowa point guard Mike Gesell on the team's mindset: "We came into this game expecting to win. And we played like it out there. You could see it in our confidence. Right away we jumped on them and we were able to hold them off the rest of the way."
SLOW START AGAIN: In all of Ohio State's losses it has had a miserable first half. First Louisville and then North Carolina blew the Buckeyes away early and then hung on at the end — just like the Hawkeyes did.
"We've obviously got to get it figured out," coach Thad Matta said. "Giving up 17 points in the first 4 minutes is not acceptable."
Iowa: The Hawkeyes aren't used to opening Big Ten play on the road. This was the first time they had to travel for their first conference game in six years. Coincidentally, that trip was also to Ohio State, which hung a 68-65 loss on them on Dec. 31, 2008.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have the most home wins nationally since the 2009-10 season with a 99-9 record. They are 28-4 at Value City Arena since the start of last season.
But Iowa accounted for two of those defeats on their last two trips to Columbus.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes return home for their next two games, hosting Nebraska on Jan. 5 and Michigan State on Jan. 8.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Illinois on Saturday, giving them 13 of their first 15 games at home.
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