IOWA CITY, Ia. - It's degrading to accept moral victories. Iowa coaches and players predictably shy away from the embarrassing suggestion. It insinuates that you're not very good and you almost beat a clearly superior team.
Iowa avoided the admission on Tuesday, but the Hawkeyes clearly were pleased that they pushed second-ranked Ohio State before falling, 73-68. The Buckeyes fought off the upset with a 16-0 run in the second half.
"Your judged by wins and losses," Iowa Captain Jarryd Cole said. "Moral victories don't count."
Normally I would agree. I'm not a fan of coming close. However, a .500 Iowa team took an unbeaten Buckeye squad to the wire in front of a loud, but smallish announced crowd of 9,810 here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"We're not satisfied, OK," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "Am I proud of the effort? Absolutely. Did we get better tonight? We got better tonight. And we're getting closer and closer to being where we have to be to there we can beat a team of this caliber. So, from that standpoint, it's good. But we're not satisfied."
Ohio State was led by freshman Jared Sullinger, one of the top first-year players in the country. He finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, not an unexpected output. What was surprising was Hawkeye rookie Melsahn Basabe's career best 22 points to go with 13 boards and six blocks.
"I'd played against (Sullinger) a lot in the past," Basabe said. "I figured I'd just go out and play like I was on the playground in New York. This is just organized."