The Buckeyes jumped on 14th-ranked Iowa for a 15-point halftime lead and cruised to an 81-69 win before an enthusiastic crowd of 14,824 at Value City Arena.
"I am obviously very proud of the way our guys came out and played today," said OSU coach Thad Matta. "This was a very good win for our team, and not just because it was at home or because it was the first Big Ten win.
"For the group of guys we have, coming off Wednesday's loss (at Illinois) and the quick turnaround for preparation of this game I am very pleased with their mind-set and ability to get it together."
The win was coach Matta's first in Big Ten play and also his first against a ranked opponent as the coach of the Buckeyes (12-3, 1-1).
After an off game in Wednesday's loss at top-ranked Illinois, OSU center Terence Dials had 22 points and eight rebounds in a season-high 37 minutes of action. Dials was 8 of 12 from the floor and 6 of 7 at the foul line.
"It's important to get a Big Ten victory, especially at home," said Dials, who was limited to seven points and six rebounds in the loss at Illinois. "We wanted to carry over what we did good at Illinois and it worked."
"Terence, to his credit, let things come to him," Matta added. "Then, as the game went on, he was able to go to work."
Tony Stockman continued his hot streak, going for 19 points. Stockman was 6 of 10 from the floor, including 5 of 7 from behind the three-point arc. Je'Kel Foster was 4 of 7 from behind the arc to add 12 points. He also had four rebounds and four assists.
Stockman said everything began with Dials' play inside.
"With Terence, they have to help," Stockman said. "When we go four out (on the perimeter), they may close out one guy. But if we're swinging the ball good like we were today we get wide open shots."
Only four other Buckeyes scored. J.J. Sullinger had nine points and seven rebounds. Brandon Fuss-Cheatham added eight points and five rebounds. Matt Sylvester had six points, while Ivan Harris tallied five.
Ohio State built a 47-32 halftime lead by hitting 8 of 17 shots from three-point range (47.1 percent). Meanwhile, Iowa committed 10 of its 16 turnovers in the first half.
"When you prepare for Ohio State, you prepare for the three-point line and Dials," said Iowa coach Steve Alford. "We missed an awful lot of defensive assignments and we gave them the opportunity to do the two things they do well."
Pierre Pierce led Iowa with 31 points on 12 of 20 shooting from the floor. The Hawkeyes, 12-3 overall, fell to 0-2 in Big Ten play for the first time since the 1993-94 season. Greg Brunner added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
"Pierre played at a high level," Alford said. "He brings it every night. But everybody needs to bring it at that level every night for us to be successful."
After going 12-1 in nonconference play, Iowa dropped its Big Ten opener at home to Michigan 65-63 Wednesday night.
"This was a tough week on us," Alford said. "After a very good start and playing at a high level, this looks like a different basketball team. Thank goodness we have a bye week. We need six days to get ready for Minnesota."
Ohio State got out of the gate strong, building a 12-4 lead in the first five minutes. Harris and Sullinger each hit early threes during that run. Iowa went on a 9-4 run to tie the game at 24-24. Pierce had five points during the run and capped it with his three-pointer with 9:00 left in the first half.
Ohio State responded with a 12-0 run to take the lead for good. Dials got it started with a turning jumper on the baseline. Sullinger then rammed home a missed shot. Sullinger then got a steal and fed for Stockman for a driving layup. He was fouled and made a free throw to complete the three-point play. Sullinger then scored a layup off a lob inside. Finally, Foster canned a three-pointer off a feed from Fuss-Cheatham to put the Buckeyes up 36-24 with 5:17 left in the half.
Pierce scored five straight points to cut the lead down to 36-29. But the Buckeyes outscored Iowa 11-3 the rest of the half. Sylvester hit a three off a feed from Jamar Butler, Stockman made a great fake to free himself for a three and Foster made a three as well. Stockman's two free throws with 59.2 seconds left staked the Buckeyes to their halftime lead of 47-32.
Matta was asked if the first half was the best his team has played all year.
"It is probably the best we have played for an extended period of time," Matta said. "We did some things defensively. For a sustained 20 minutes, that was probably the best we've done."
OSU went to work to open the second half as Sullinger scored on another lob from Stockman just 10 seconds into the half. Stockman's three-pointer with nobody around gave Ohio State its biggest lead at 54-36 with 17:04 left.
Iowa then scored the next nine straight, keyed by a three from Pierce and four points from Bruner, to cut the gap to 54-45 with 14:12 left. Iowa still trailed 56-47 after Pierce's steal and layup with 13:48 left.
But this is when Ohio State began to drift away. Foster hit a three off an inside-out feed from Dials with 13:24 left to put the Buckeyes up 59-47 with 13:24 left in the game. Dials backed in and laid the ball in to put OSU up 67-53 with 8:24 left. Iowa's Jeff Horner made a jumper in the lane to cut it to 67-57.
The teams traded several possessions without scoring before Stockman nailed a trey on a pass from Fuss-Cheatham with 5:15 left. Dials then made a pair of free throws to put OSU up 72-57 with 4:44 left. Iowa never got closer than 11 after that. Stockman's trey from the top with 35 seconds left was the final dagger as OSU grabbed an 81-65 lead.
Matta noted that OSU committed just one of its 15 turnovers in the last 12 minutes.
"That was probably paramount for the game," he said. "When we got that lead, we had to take care of it."
* The win was just Ohio State's second in six games against Iowa inside Value City Arena, since it opened for the 1998-99 season.
* Foster's 12-point outburst matched his OSU career high. It was his fourth double-digit game of the year, though just his second in the last seven games. He was held scoreless in 18 minutes Wednesday at Illinois.
"I credit Terence," Foster said. "They looked at the stat sheet and watched the film. They saw in previous games what he did. They doubled Terence and we were then able to hit some wide open shots."
"Je'Kel came off the bench and Matt came off the bench and played tremendously," Matta said.
* OSU improved to 86-20 all-time in VCA and 10-0 at home this year.
* Pierce's 31-point game was one shy of the collegiate building record set by Michigan State's Marcus Taylor in a 2002 win over the Buckeyes. (Scoonie Penn, Michael Redd and Brent Darby share the OSU VCA scoring mark of 30 points.)
* In terms of playing ranked opponents, the win was OSU's first over a ranked team since a 65-59 win at then-No. 21 Purdue on Jan. 31, 2004.
It snapped a string of four losses against top-15 teams, dating to an 81-69 win over then-No. 15 Indiana on Jan. 11, 2003.
It was also the highest ranked opponent the Buckeyes have beaten since then-No. 21 Ohio State defeated No. 10 Illinois 94-88 on March 9, 2002, at the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.
OSU is now 12-5 all-time against ranked teams in VCA.
* The Buckeyes travel to Wisconsin Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN). The Badgers were 10-2 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play heading into a game tonight at Indiana.
"We need to recuperate and get ready," Matta said. "It doesn't get any easier for us."
OSU will then venture outside the conference one last time, visiting LSU next Saturday.