Sullinger Helps Buckeyes Overcome Foul Trouble at Iowa
By Brandon Castel
The Buckeyes overcame a hostile road environment, early foul trouble and a tough shooting night from William Buford Saturday to knock off upset-minded Iowa 76-47 in Iowa City.
They have Jared Sullinger to thank for that.
Playing in his eighth game after missing a pair of contests with back spasms, Ohio State’s star big man showed he is regaining the form that won him college basketball’s National Freshman of the Year award last season.
Sullinger kept the Buckeyes (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) out in front with 15 first-half points and helped them put the Hawkeyes (10-7, 2-2) away with 13 more in the second half. He finished with a season-high 28 points to go with eight rebounds and four steals in 31 minutes.
The Buckeyes also got 10 points from Deshaun Thomas and eight from Buford, who also had 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals. The team’s lone senior was 0-10 shooting in the first half, however, and did not score his first points of the game until the 18:57 mark in the second half.
It didn’t help that three starters—Thomas, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and point guard Aaron Craft—spent most of the first half on the bench with foul trouble. Freshman point guard Shannon Scott played some of his best basketball to help Ohio State maintain a lead without three of their key players in the first half.
Scott scored two points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists in the first half and the Buckeyes controlled the game at the defensive end. The Hawkeyes, who upset Wisconsin in the Kohl Center last week, shot just 5-23 from the floor in the first half.
They were 1-6 from behind the arc and trailed 28-19 at the break despite everything that went wrong for Ohio State in the first half.
The Buckeyes closed out the half on a 6-0 run and they took control of the game early in the second half, starting things out with a 5-0 run to take a 33-19 lead on Buford’s basket of the game.
Buford stopped chucking up jump shots in the second half and it paid off immediately for Ohio State, as Thad Matta’s team used an 8-0 run to open up a 48-27 lead with 13:33 left.
No one on Iowa finished with double-digit points as they shot just 32 percent from the floor and 25 percent from behind the arc. They also turned the ball over 20 times and were outrebounded 39-29.
Sophomore J.D. Weatherspoon gave OSU eight points off the bench and Sam Thompson added five, but the Hawkeyes simply had no answer for Sullinger, who had his way with their interior defense all afternoon.
After playing only six minutes in the win at South Carolina, Sullinger has quickly become a dominant force again in Big Ten play. He has 17 and 14 in the conference opener against Northwestern.
He followed that up with 15 and nine in the loss at Indiana, despite the fact he missed much of the first half with foul trouble. He had 19 and 12 in the 31-point blowout of Nebraska on Tuesday and now 28 and eight in the win at Iowa.
Ohio State will stay on the road Tuesday with a trip to Illinois before returning to Columbus for a rematch with the Hoosiers on Jan. 15.
Season Stats Year to Date
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