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Saturday, January 08, 2005
 
Ohio State 81, Iowa 69
Alright, I'm finally back in Iowa City and ready to get back to some blogging. It's been a busy last few days, full of travelling, unpacking, restocking the fridge, getting ready for next semester, etc. I got far enough behind with the blog that I decided not to write a recap of the Michigan game, especially since I didn't get to see it anyway (I was still out West).

Today's game at Ohio State scared me a little going in. Ken Pomeroy's ratings had Ohio State favored by 5 points before tip-off. Iowa's defense has been questionable all year, and the Buckeyes have several options to exploit it. Terence Dials is having a solid year and looked capable of continuing Iowa's opponents' dominance inside, and OSU's guards led the team to 20th in the country in three-point percentage. So after losing to Michigan, Iowa would have a heck of a time starting even 2-2 in the conference if they lost to Ohio State, with their next two games against Minnesota and Illinois.

I still haven't scrounged up the money for my own TV yet, so I had to settle for the radio/Gametracker combo today. Here's some of what transpired while I listened to the game.

First Half

Turnovers were killing Iowa early on. They dug themselves into a hole with four turnovers on their first handful of possessions, and they ended the half with 10 TO. Ohio State took advantage by scoring 19 points off those turnovers. Doug Thomas filled in nicely for the meager Erek Hansen with three early field goals. Iowa fought back to tie the game at 24, but Ohio State went on a 23-8 run to close the half up 47-32.

Second Half

15:30 - A steal by Thomas followed by a basket from Brunner, and Iowa has whittled the 17 point deficit down to 11. I hate playing the whole game from behind like this - way too nerve-wracking.

14:12 - Thomas knocks down a couple free throws. He's up to 8 points and the lead is down to nine!

13:45 - Steal and a layup by Pierce! He's having a great game and is up to 23 points.

13:30 - Je'Kel Foster hits another three. That's four already. Can someone guard him? Please?

12:25 - Horner goes to the line for two. Can he find that free throw stroke again? Yes, Jeff hits them both. Hawks down ten.

10:20 - Pierce scores again, goes to the line and, you guessed it, missed the FT badly.

8:30 - Horner and Brunner fight for a defensive rebound and lose the ball out of bounds. That's at least the second time that's happened. Unbelievable. Way too many unforced errors in this game.

8:00 - Two Brunner FT's get it back to 12. We need a big run.

6:30 - Gag. Ohio State runs a ton of time off the clock, and comes down with the offensive rebound after their miss. Ends up being a 1:10 possession.

5:15 - Stockman hits a three. That should just about wrap it up, with Iowa down 70-57.

3:40 - Pierce throws a pass that Thomas wasn't looking for, ball goes out of bounds. Turnover number 16. Ugly.

3:15 - Henderson fouls a guy on a long three with the shot clock running out. I should really turn the radio off already.

2:00 - Brunner fouls out after a good game. He finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

0:00 - Ohio State 81-69

Wrapup
Iowa is now 0-2 in conference play for the first time in 11 years (according to hawkeyesports.com, although the radio guys said the last time was 1997). This is all starting to feel way too familiar - an Alford Iowa squad starts the year with high expectations, works it's way into the national rankings, then tanks in the conference season. It's still way too early to give up on the season, of course, but Iowa needed to win at least one, if not both, of these first two games to be competitive in the Big Ten this year.

Where is Erek Hansesn? I haven't seen the games lately to know what's going on, but he's only scored 4 points in the last 3 games. Maybe it's not too late to take back what I wrote about Thomas not deserving Hansen's minutes. Thomas contributed 8 points today and played 20 minutes to Hansen's 13 (who was in foul trouble).

Ohio State center Terence Dials had a big game, as expected. He ended up with 22 points and 8 rebounds. I bet James Augustine and Roger Powell, Jr. can't wait to take on Iowa's defense on January 20. I know I'm a lot less excited about that date than a was just a week ago.

You think Alford is ready to work on some perimeter defense? Iowa has allowed 19 threes in their two conference games. Tony Stockman torched the defense for 5 threes, and Je'Kel Foster added 4. I'm guessing Dee Brown and Luther Head like to see that too.

Things could have been a lot worse today if the shots weren't falling from Pierce. He shot 12-20 with a couple of threes to end up with 31 points. I'd say that's good enough for Hawkeye Hoops Player of the Game. (Yahoo somehow disagreed and chose Brunner).

Can someone who's seen the recent games tell me what happened to Jeff Horner? I miss the games where he was scoring 15-20 every night. Iowa's offense was a lot more efficient when Horner was taking as many shots as Pierce, as opposed to the current style, where Horner only shoots about half as often as Pierce. ***Edit - I checked the box scores, and there has only been one game where Horner took more shots than Pierce, and he hasn't been close to Pierce's shot total very often. Horner had 13 to Pierce's 12 against Drake, and both took 12 shots against Northern Iowa.***

Haluska got benched early after 3 turnovers, and only played 13 minutes in the game.

Well, I'm thoroughly disgusted. Iowa gets a week off before Minnesota comes to town. That will be the first game I've seen in person in about a month. Hopefully by then I can come up with something positive to say about this team.

Comments:
Horner's not a lot quicker than Troy Skinner was (though he's taller and a better passer). Teams are focusing on keeping someone tight on him (the exact opposite of Iowa and the opposing team's shooters). Absent Horner, Iowa's outside shooting isn't that great.

Benching Haluska so much seemed strange. He definitely was making mistakes. But, well, so was everyone else.

You might not have noticed this listening on the radio, but Iowa took a lot of shots today that were highly contested when they still had 20 seconds left on the shot clock.
 
Thanks for the info, Jason. I feel really out of touch with this team because I haven't seen them play since the Texas Tech game. Most of their play since then has been about the opposite of everything before it, so it's nice to hear some feedback on what's causing their poor play.
 
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