Ohio State and Iowa are two of college basketball's heavy hitters this season, and they went punch-for-punch Thursday night.
When the final bell sounded, the Buckeyes earned the decision with a late second-half surge, pulling off the 89-85 win in Big Ten men's basketball play. The Buckeyes did so despite trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half.
Ohio State remains red-hot, having won seven of its last eight, while Iowa is now just 1-3 in its last four contests after reaching as high as No. 3 in the nation earlier in the season. Both teams looked like legitimate Big Ten contenders Thursday and programs that could go on a deep run come March.
The threes were raining in this one. Ohio State finished 14-of-32 from deep, while Iowa was 14-of-31.
The Big Ten is loaded this season, with six teams in the Top 25 and four teams in the Top 12. The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes are among the best in that group, even if the Hawkeyes suffered a tough loss Thursday.
E.J. Liddell, OSU: 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks
Duane Washington Jr., OSU: 16 points
Kyle Young OSU: 16 points, six rebounds
Luka Garza, Iowa: 16 points (6-of-13 from the field), seven rebounds, five assists
Joe Wieskamp, Iowa: 17 points, 10 rebounds
Jordan Bohannon, Iowa: 18 points, six assists
Liddell Did a Little Bit of Everything for the Buckeyes
Liddell scored. He crashed the boards. He got to the line. He set up his teammates. He protected the rim. It was an all-around showing from the talented Buckeyes sophomore.
He is emerging as one of the most intriguing talents in college basketball this season, and his growing impact has the Buckeyes emerging as a national championship contender.
Garza might be the better-known player on the national stage, but Liddell matched his impact and then some Thursday.
Garza Didn't Quite Look Like the Wooden Award Front-Runner
Garza almost always shows up. Maybe Thursday wasn't his best game—credit to Ohio State for doing a pretty good job against him—but he still had a solid impact and was efficient from the floor.
His gravity alone makes a difference. Iowa got a number of open looks from the perimeter, and sunk them, in part because Ohio State had to deal with Garza on the block (and in part because Garza had an excellent passing night).
That meant he didn't need to completely dominate in this one to keep Iowa in the contest, though perhaps a bigger game might have propelled the Hawkeyes to a win. And even without dominating, he still put up strong numbers. There hasn't been a better player in college basketball this season.
Iowa will look to get revenge on an Indiana team that beat it 81-69 on Jan. 21 in the rematch Sunday at noon ET (Fox), while Ohio State takes on Maryland on Monday at 9 p.m. ET (FS1).