Iowa found itself in familiar territory Tuesday in Columbus. It's felt like an uncomfortable place in previous instances.
Second-half woes have crippled Iowa in its four losses. Ohio State attempted to have history repeat itself, cutting into its deficit late. It rattled the Hawkeyes.
Instead of folding, Iowa showed growth. It fended off the Buckeyes' surge for a 71-65 win, its second in a row at Value City Arena after dropping seven in succession.
"What we wanted to be able to do today was play with some toughness, execute," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "That's part of toughness. Toughness isn't pushing and shoving. Toughness is being able to play through the run and being able to deal with the crowd. That's what good teams do. You make plays then."
The Hawkeyes (10-4 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) collapsed in the second half of losses to Iowa State and Northern Iowa earlier this month. Similar shortcomings hampered them in setbacks to Texas and Syracuse. They hung together in a win at then No. 12 North Carolina on Dec. 3 and Monday's grit and determination mirrored that performance.
"We came in with an aggressive mindset," Iowa junior Jarrod Uthoff said. "That was a big key to us winning. We hit the offensive boards. We got to the rim. We got a lot of free throws."
Perhaps nobody benefits from aggressive play more than Uthoff. The gifted forward delivered 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists (two turnovers) and blocked a shot against OSU. He connected on 4 of 6 three-point shots, none of them bigger than the trey he knocked down in the final minutes.
D'Angelo Russell banged home a triple with 3:25 on the clock cutting the Hawkeye lead to 63-60. The visitors had enjoyed a 12-point cushion with less than 10 minutes to play in the second half.
With the crowd engaged and adversity staring it in the face, Iowa responded. Senior Josh Oglesby found a soft spot in the OSU zone and hit a short, pull-up jumper. After Russell missed a three-point attempt, Aaron White found Uthoff in the right corner. He raised up and calmly swished it through the rim giving his team a 68-60 advantage with 2:19 left in the contest.
"It was just one of those times when I felt like taking a shot and I just took it," Uthoff said.
After a Sam Thompson layup and free throw cut he home team's deficit to five, Uthoff connected on another jumper for a 70-63 lead with 1:35 remaining. Ohio State scored one more basket but then missed its last three shots as its comeback fell short.
Uthoff credited Oglesby with switching momentum back in the Hawkeyes' favor late.
"If he didn't make that dribble pull-up, I don't know if we win the game. That was a big, big shot by him," Uthoff said of his former Iowa Barnstormers AAU teammate.
Oglesby contributed eight points on 3 of 6 shooting (2 of 5 on threes) from the floor to go with three rebounds and two assists without a turnover in 27 minutes. White notched 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Hawkeyes received contributions from much of its rotation. Six different players scored at least seven points and a half dozen guys pulled down at least three rebounds. They won the battle on the glass, 37-29, which included 15 offensive boards
"I keep saying this, but that was the key from the get-go. We were aggressive. We came out with an aggressive mindset. That's offense, defense, both ends of the court.," Uthoff said.
Iowa returns to action Monday night when its plays host to Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (8 p.m. CT, BTN).