IOWA CITY, Iowa — Ohio State is still undefeated, even though the Buckeyes aren’t playing defense as they will need to if they want to keep winning in the Big Ten.
Imagine how good the second-ranked Buckeyes can be once they put it together on both ends of the court.
Freshman Jared Sullinger had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 2 Ohio State rallied to overtake Iowa 73-68 on Tuesday night and survive their closest test yet.
Jon Diebler added 14 points for the Buckeyes (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten), who have won five straight over the Hawkeyes for the first time in school history.
But Ohio State, which hadn’t let anyone get within 10 points all season, let Iowa cut a 13-point lead to 71-68 on Zach McCabe’s 3-pointer with 24 seconds left. Freshman Aaron Craft bailed out the Buckeyes with two free throws and a steal.
Still, the defensive lapses that popped up in an 85-67 win at Indiana on New Year’s Eve resurfaced against the Hawkeyes. That’s a concern for Buckeyes coach Thad Matta, who otherwise has had little to complain about this season.
“There were times (Tuesday) where it was really, really good,” Matta said of his team’s defensive effort. “Statistically we were pretty good … but standard-wise it wasn’t good enough.”
Ohio State had major trouble early with Iowa (7-7, 0-2) and trailed 35-29 at halftime before openng the second half with a 29-10 run.AROUND THE NATION
• PITT WINS ON ROAD — At Providence, R.I., Gary McGhee scored all of his 13 points in the second half, grabbed a key rebound and made two free throws with 18 seconds left to lead No. 5 Pittsburgh to an 83-79 win over Providence.
• NOTRE DAME SURVIVES — At South Bend, Ind., Ben Hansbrough scored 21 points, and No. 14 Notre Dame survived a late surge for a 73-70 win over eighth-ranked Connecticut.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
• COLORADO STATE RALLIES — At Fort Collins, Colo., Adam Nigon scored a season-high 21 points on seven 3-pointers, and Colorado State overcame a 13-point deficit to beat Wyoming 73-60 in the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams.