Luka Garza, No. 9 Iowa Pull Away from No. 4 Ohio State for Upset Win

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIFebruary 28, 2021

Iowa's Luka Garza, left, posts up against Ohio State's Zed Key during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

Unlike Ohio State, Iowa didn't falter after losing to Michigan. 

The No. 9 Hawkeyes, who dropped Thursday's game to No. 3 Michigan 79-57, defeated No. 4 Ohio State on Sunday, 73-57.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes fell to Michigan a week ago and have now dropped three straight. 

As expected, Luka Garza paced Iowa, which improved to 18-7 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten.

For Ohio State (18-7, 12-7), E.J. Liddell had a team-high 15 points. 


Notable Performers

  • Luka Garza, Iowa: 24 PTS, 11 REB
  • Joe Wieskamp, Iowa: 19 PTS, 6 REB
  • E.J. Liddell, Ohio State: 15 PTS, 3 REB
  • Justice Sueing, Ohio State: 12 PTS


Iowa Manages Without Jack Nunge

The star on this Iowa team is obviously Luka Garza, who is a contender for every national player of the year award as he entered Sunday with an average of 24.3 points on 54.8 percent shooting from the field. Everyone knows it, and that helped Ohio State to limit him to just 16 points in their last outing. 

But Garza had backup, as Iowa got 18 points each from Jordan Bohannon and Jack Nunge and 17 from Joe Wieskamp in a four-point loss. 

Nunge suffered the second season-ending knee injury of his career when the Hawkeyes lost to Michigan. While he was only averaging 7.1 points per game, the sophomore had proved to be an important piece of Iowa's depth throughout the season. 

In the first half, the Hawkeyes barely had to look beyond Garza, who had 15 points with seven rebounds, while Wieskamp posted 13 points. The rest of the lineup was quiet, with Bohannon tallying three points as the only other starter to score. 

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Bohannon set a school record for assists in the opening frame. 

Iowa didn't really have to look to its bench as Garza and Wieskamp dominated for 43 of Iowa's 73 points.

With its recent success, Iowa appears to be headed toward the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament. It is locked into that spot as long as it beats Nebraska and Wisconsin next week. 

From there, a deep run in the conference tournament could easily lead to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.  


E.J. Liddell Is Getting Hot, But OSU Is Getting Cold

Ohio State's leading scorer, sophomore E.J. Liddell, has done all he could to keep the Buckeyes in the conversation for a No. 1 seed. In the last four games, he has scored at least 18 points, and he tallied a double-double when he dropped 23 against Michigan to go with 10 rebounds.

But he wasn't pleased after that outing against Michigan. 

"A loss is a loss no matter who you lose against," he said (h/t Adam Jardy of Buckeye Xtra). "I hate losing no matter how much it's by. This one just stung a little different because I felt like I could've done more. Just things didn't go my way tonight."

On Sunday, he scored 13 points in the first half, but there was no one else there to help him as the Buckeyes trailed by 14 at the break. 

Duane Washington Jr. scored five points as the team's second-leading scorer at halftime. The team hit just 38.7 percent of shots from the field compared to Iowa's 51.6 percent shooting and 35.7 percent from deep. Ohio State hit just 20 percent of its three-point attempts in the opening half.

In the second half, Liddell recorded just two points, but even an increased role from Justice Sueing, who had 12 on the day, wasn't enough for the Buckeyes to pull through. 

The loss could have major implications heading into March—maybe Liddell is heating up, but Ohio State is getting stone cold at the wrong time. The Buckeyes' road isn't getting any easier when they take on conference rival and fifth-ranked Illinois, with Big Ten and NCAA tournament seeding on the line.


What's Next? 

The Hawkeyes are back in action Thursday against Nebraska before closing the season Sunday against No. 23 Wisconsin on Sunday. 

Ohio State's regular season ends on Saturday with its third ranked opponent in four games as the Buckeyes host No. 5 Illinois.