Yes, it was ugly at times. Yes, the Buckeyes set a new season high with 20 turnovers. Yes, they looked to be reverting to open gym basketball at times. But they won, and they made the Hawkeyes look bad in doing so.
Iowa had no business being on the same court as OSU in this one. The Hawkeyes had no offensive rhythm, no real answers on defense and nothing more than a puncher's chance to pull off the upset. Instead of being in awe of being the newly crowned No. 1 team in the nation, the Buckeyes focused on taking Iowa out of the game early.
This one was over for all intents and purposes 10 minutes into the game when the Buckeyes already held a 10-point lead. The Hawkeyes got no closer than seven points the rest of the way. The visitors never established any sort of offensive flow and found themselves outclassed in short order. Credit that to OSU's defensive efforts in practice this past week.
Regarding the turnovers, I view them as an aberration. The total was nearly double what the Buckeyes were averaging entering the game, and several of them were unenforced errors. Mistakes like that are bound to happen in a game like this, when you have two obviously mismatched teams.
Would Thad Matta have preferred not to have seen his team giving the ball away so often? That goes without saying. But in this case, past history helps predict the future and it says that OSU should do a much better job of taking care of the basketball Saturday at high noon against Illinois.
I think … that another key reason for OSU's hot start was the fact that Dallas Lauderdale was so heavily involved in the opening run. The senior has his team's first four points and finished with nine as well as two offensive rebounds. Lauderdale had been scoreless in two of his last three games and had scored more than one basket in just one of OSU's last five contests.
Getting early production from the big man not only energized him, but it had a carryover effect for his teammates as well. I got a genuine sense of relief from some of the players that Lauderdale was able to have this kind of an impact, as if they knew it was vital to his mental health that he string together some quality minutes.
Granted, it was against an Iowa team that will struggle to win two conference games this season, but it is a step in the right direction nonetheless. If Lauderdale is to be effective Saturday against the Fighting Illini, he needed a stepping stone like this game.
I was surprised to see that he only played 14 minutes against the Hawkeyes. His contribution seemed more pronounced than that.
I think … that it says something about OSU's depth that the Buckeyes were able to withstand a 1-for-8 effort from Jon Diebler and still pull off a convincing victory.
The senior will end his career as the league's all-time most prolific three-point shooter. It is hard to imagine many teams being deep enough to be able to survive that kind of night from such a sharpshooter. The Buckeyes never missed a beat, and Diebler's streak of at least one three-pointer in a game to 34 consecutive contests.
I think … that if I was planning to stop the Buckeyes, I would have a simple plan for Deshaun Thomas.
Every time the freshman got the ball, I would order each of my players on the court to immediately leave their man and focus exclusively on stopping Thomas. It is a given that he is going to shoot each time he touches the ball, so why not bring the house to stop him?
Thomas needs to watch classmate Jared Sullinger when it comes to what to do when you have the ball in the post and the defense is collapsing. One of the most impressive things about Sullinger's season has been his ability to sense the double-team coming and pass out of it. Thomas still plays like he is the only talented player on the court.
When the Buckeyes are getting the ball inside to Sullinger, it opens up the entire offense and gives glimpses of why this is such a tough team to try and stop.
That being said, Thomas showed flashes of improved defense. I liked how he kept his arms straight up in the air after pinning his opponent under the basket and forcing the turnover rather than drawing the foul in the first half. After Matta singled him out for not being clued in defensively the last time out, it was a sign that the message was getting across.