For the first time this season, the Buckeyes (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten) were beaten by a hot-shooting team. In this case, the Hawkeyes (11-12, 4-6) were led by Justin Johnson, a guard who entered the game averaging three treys a game.
When the game ended, Johnson had connected on eight three pointers – tying a career high – and the Hawkeyes had avenged a 31-loss suffered on OSU's home court less than a month prior.
"Give Iowa credit," OSU head coach Thad Matta told the Ohio State Basketball Radio Network. "They did a tremendous job tonight. We just could not get over (the hump). We had tremendous looks and they just did not go down for us."
After entering the second half facing a five-point deficit, the Buckeyes frequently found themselves with the ball in position to either tie the game or take the lead but could not come up with the equalizer.
A bank shot by freshman center Kosta Koufos made it a 46-44 Iowa lead, but Johnson answered with a trey by Johnson to push the lead back to five points. The Buckeyes would counter with a trey by senior forward Matt Terwilliger, but things would get ugly from there for OSU.
For the rest of the game, the Buckeyes relied almost exclusively on shooting three pointers with absolutely no success. OSU had four possessions while trailing by three points and launched five treys, connecting on zero of them. They also missed one shot in the paint during the stretch.
In all, the Buckeyes missed their final 10 treys of the game and were 3 for 21 overall.
"Ours not going in hurt us even more (than their misses)," Matta said. "We're not a good enough basketball game to come on the road and go 3 for 21. I thought we had some great looks at it."
The Hawkeyes pushed it back to a two-possession game when Freeman connected on two free throws with 34.6 seconds remaining to make it 51-46, and from there OSU could just muster a basket by senior forward Othello Hunter after a miss from beyond the arc by freshman guard Jon Diebler.
Iowa shot 44.0 percent (11 of 25) from beyond the arc for the game after shooting 35.0 percent (84 of 254) from deep at home in its previous 13 games this season.
With OSU's full-court press having an adverse effect slowing the game down, the Buckeyes looked lethargic on offense and headed into the half facing a 27-22 deficit. Although the press did result in one 10-second call against the Hawkeyes, it found the Buckeyes frequently scrambling to get in the correct defensive alignment.
Of course, it helped that Johnson connected on four treys, accounting for 12 first-half points. The senior guard frequently found himself in an empty spot in the zone, and his teammates were only too happy to get him the ball.
After OSU jumped out to a 7-3 lead early, the home team came surging back. Back-to-back treys and two buckets by senior forward Seth Gorney – who had 10 points and seven rebounds – capped a 7-0 run and put Iowa ahead 14-7.
The Buckeyes would answer, though, as the Hawkeyes went cold from the floor. And just as Matta likes to see, it began with a spark on the defensive end of the court.
Freshman forward Dallas Lauderdale, who has seen limited action this season, deflected a pass near the free-throw line. Corralling the loose ball, Lauderdale pushed it up the court and threw down a one-handed dunk, breaking the Iowa run and starting an OSU run that was capped by a basket by freshman guard Kosta Koufos. His basket with 6:06 remaining in the half was the final one in an 11-3 OSU run that saw them snatch an 18-17 lead.
After the teams traded baskets, Iowa finished the half with another basket by Gorney and a trey by Johnson to set the margin at 27-22.
Iowa's final possession of the first half lasted more than a minute and a half thanks to two OSU miscues. First, a long rebound of a Gorney miss deflected off Butler's hands and into Gorney's, who promptly called timeout. Then, with 17.1 seconds left, OSU freshman guard Evan Turner fouled Gorney, giving the Hawkeyes a fresh shot clock. With less than five seconds remaining, a Freeman trey fell short.
OSU was led by Butler, who finished with 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting. Koufos added 10 points and seven rebounds, as OSU out-rebounded the Hawkeyes by a 32-30 margin.
The loss delivers a serious blow to the Buckeyes' hopes of a third consecutive Big Ten title. OSU entered the day fifth in the conference as the only team with two conference losses and trailing four teams each with one conference loss.
"We just didn't have the mentality you needed coming into this ballgame," Matta said. "For whatever reason, we just didn't have enough today to get us over the edge."