Iowa will look to continue its late-season surge when it hosts struggling Ohio State in Big Ten play Thursday in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes (16-9, 8-6 Big Ten) have won four of their past five games after a 68-56 win at Minnesota on Sunday. The Buckeyes have lost six straight including a 62-41 debacle at Michigan State that same day.
While Iowa has strengthened its case in recent weeks to make its fourth straight NCAA Tournament, Ohio State (11-14, 3-11) is riding its longest losing streak since dropping 17 straight during the 1997-98 season.
The Hawkeyes never trailed against the Golden Gophers.
After Minnesota pulled to within 39-37 with 16:53 remaining, Iowa put the game away with a 9-2 run to take a 48-39 advantage with 13:15 to go.
Kris Murray, who averages a team-high 21.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, led the way against the Golden Gophers with 28 points and 14 rebounds.
“To his credit, he just kept coming,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey said of Murray, who scored 18 second-half points. “We’re gonna keep running stuff for and we’re gonna keep isolating him and putting him in situations where he can score.”
Filip Rebraca added 16 points and eight rebounds, while Tony Perkins chipped in seven points, seven rebounds and six assists against the Golden Gophers.
Ohio State has lost 11 of its past 12 games, with its lone win during that stretch a 93-77 victory over visiting Iowa on Jan. 21.
But the Buckeyes have struggled mightily since — culminating in their worst performance of the season Sunday.
The Buckeyes scored just 14 in the first half and finished with 41, marking their fewest points in the first half and in a game since being held to nine first-half points in a 55-41 loss at Michigan State in February 1996.
Ohio State trimmed a 15-point second-half deficit to six with 10:30 to go, but Michigan State countered with a 10-0 run to secure the victory.
The Buckeyes shot 5 of 26 (19.2 percent) from the field in the first half and finished a season-low 28.3 percent (17 of 60) for the game.
“Our offensive frustration was significant in the first half and it dug us too deep of a hole really to climb out of,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.
Sean McNeil had 10 points and Bruce Thornton added nine, while Brice Sensabaugh, who averages a team-high 16.4 points per game, was held to eight against Michigan State.
Justice Sueing, who averages 12.4 points per game, was held to five points on 2-for-11 shooting, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range, against the Spartans.
–Field Level Media