After-thoughts from Iowa’s 92-81 loss to Ohio State:
--Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after the game that he thought his team played better Thursday than it did in Tuesday’s loss to Michigan and that definitely was the case. The Hawkeyes defended a little better and rebounded better, and played with a little more intensity, especially in the second half. The one area where they weren’t quite as good was shooting the ball but part of the problem is that Ohio State is just playing extremely well right now. The Buckeyes shot 53 percent from the field.
--Ohio State’s success this season makes you wonder if perhaps Thad Matta really did slip a little as a coach in his last few years with the Buckeyes. New coach Chris Holtmann has his team 3-0 in the Big Ten mostly with players that Matta had last season, minus Marc Loving, JaQuan Lyle and Trevor Thompson. The only significant addition is freshman center Kaleb Wesson. But there seems to be a whole new level of confidence and commitment in a team some of us expected to finish near the bottom of the standings.
--It does help the Buckeyes that forward Keita Bates-Diop is healthy again. He has developed this season into one of the best all-around players in the Big Ten and he was the key figure in repelling Iowa’s second-half comeback Thursday, finishing with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
--Ohio State, like many teams, backed off of Tyler Cook and dared him to shoot from the 15-to-18-foot range, and Cook finally took a few of those shots. He hit his first one, missed two straight, then made another one later in the first half. If Cook can make those shots, he’s going to be even more effective as a scorer than he already is.
--Jordan Bohannon also seemingly made some adjustments in his offensive game Thursday, showing more of an inclination to penetrate and shoot floaters rather than just hunting for 3-point opportunities. He set a career high with five 2-point field goals while making just one of five shots from 3-point range. For his career, three fourths of Bohannon’s field goals are 3s.
--McCaffery has been very patient with Isaiah Moss, waiting for him to play with intensity on a consistent basis. The sophomore was, by McCaffery’s admission, a complete “non-factor’’ in the first half before coming alive and making a few contributions in the second half. He obviously has the ability to be a major offensive force, but he simply doesn’t show up much of the time.
--Freshman Luke Garza moved back into the starting lineup and played fairly well, collecting 15 points and six rebounds. More impressively, you can tell how much Garza wants to win. He was noticeably bothered by the 0-4 Big Ten start in postgame interviews and is determined that this tailspin won’t continue.
--Iowa had some success with fullcourt pressure defense at the start of the second half with either Nicholas Baer or Jack Nunge at the point disrupting things. It’s something the Hawkeyes should do more often, especially when it works as well as it did Thursday.