No. 7 Ohio State Rallies Past Luka Garza, No. 8 Iowa in Big Ten Showdown

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2021

Ohio State's E.J. Liddell, right, celebrates against Penn State with teammate Justin Ahrens during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Penn State 83-79. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

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. 

Big Ten Network @BigTenNetwork

.@MeechieJohnson0 got RANGE range. 😮 The 17-year-old drills it from deep for @OhioStateHoops: https://t.co/MXk96P7PzS

Big Ten Network @BigTenNetwork

🔥🔥 @dwizthekid4 @OhioStateHoops carves into a 10-point deficit in a blink: https://t.co/f5yFFZxwhV

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. 


Key Stats

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.

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

EJ Liddell needs to be a first-team All-Big Ten guy. Has emerged as one of the best players in the country.

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.

Matt Jones @KySportsRadio

Luka Garza is an impressive player 27 points a game...shoots 60 percent from the field...46 percent from three....best efficiency rate in College Basketball since Shaquille O’Neal Having a historic season...unfortunately it’s in Iowa and few people realize it

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). 

Big Ten Network @BigTenNetwork

Nung3 👀 @IowaHoops goes on a 10-0 tear: https://t.co/BP8tfdWKlY

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.


What's Next? 

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).