Hawkeyes trail big, come back, fall short, 72-63

Updated: January 22, 2013, 10:53 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With three freshmen in the starting lineup, every game's a learning experience for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

It might not have been a new lesson Tuesday night, but that made it no less painful.

The Hawkeyes fell behind No. 14 Ohio State by 24 points with under 13 minutes left, then fought back to make the Buckeyes nervous before they settled for a 72-63 victory.

"It shows you've got to come into an atmosphere like this and throw the first punch," said Iowa's Aaron White, who led the Hawkeyes with 13 points. "You can't sit back and play tentative and hope things will happen. You've got to go out and make them happen for yourself."

The Buckeyes led 53-29 after Evan Ravenel hit a free throw with 12:48 left. Most in a crowd of 16,040 at Value City Arena were itching to head for the exits and beat the crowd.

Slowly but surely, however, Iowa (13-6, 2-4 Big Ten) knifed into the lead.

"A lot of times teams don't have the maturity or the patience to try to chip away," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "That's what we did. We got it under 20, then we got it under 15, we got it under 10, we got it under 5."

White, an Ohio native playing his first college game in his home state, hit the second of two foul shots with 1:30 left to cut the once huge lead down to just 63-49.

It's important for young teams to know they can't erase such a big lead quickly.

"We got a couple of turnovers, we got a couple of runouts, a couple of easy baskets, and we got to the free throw line," McCaffery said. "That's how you have to do it. You can't just start jacking 3s. It's got to be easy baskets, free throws and an occasional 3."

Ohio State's Aaron Craft added a foul shot with 1:02 left and, after forcing a turnover, Deshaun Thomas, who led the Buckeyes (14-4, 4-2) with 16 points, made two more free throws with 52.9 seconds remaining.

Roy Devyn Marble, who had a miserable shooting night for the Hawkeyes while making just 2 of 11 shots from the field and 3 of 6 free throws, missed two foul shots. Craft made two more at the line to push the lead to 68-59 with 40 seconds left. The threat was over. The crowd finally sifted toward the doors.

"We're happy we got the win, but we're not happy with the way we got the win," Ravenel said.

The Hawkeyes could only ponder how they let the game get away from them.

Ohio State scored the final six points of the first half to take a 34-22 lead and then stretched the streak to 10-0 on baskets by Craft and Thomas. It appeared that the rout was on.

"We dug a little bit too big of a hole," said Iowa's Mike Gesell. "We tried to battle back and we just fell a little bit short. We just have to come out stronger in the first half."

One huge problem area for the Hawkeyes was one that was considered a strength. They came into the game leading the Big Ten in free-throw accuracy but made just 13 of 26 -- including 3 of 8 in the second half when they needed them the most.

"(After the game) Coach emphasized free throws. We missed (13). That's (13) points. You could have the lead with that," said Zach McCabe, who helped fuel the second-half comeback with eight points in 15 minutes. "The positive thing is we were able to come back. But we can't build ourselves a deficit in the first half and beginning of the second half. We have to at least give ourselves a chance."

Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. each had 12 points and Ravenel added 11 for Ohio State. Center Amir Williams had a strange stat line: six blocked shots and no rebounds to go with two points.

The Hawkeyes' four Big Ten losses have come to teams ranked in the top 15 -- No. 2 Michigan, No. 7 Indiana, No. 13 Michigan State and now the 14th-ranked Buckeyes. Those teams came into the week with an overall combined record of 62-10 and 16-5 in the conference.

McCaffery accentuated the positive -- the comeback when least expected. It's the kind of thing young teams go through and learn from.

"We were scrambling," he said. "You've got to make plays, we got a couple of steals. We reacted pretty well."

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Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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