IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP)—Iowa has been just about everybody’s trap game this season. If not for a pair of stellar second-half efforts from David Lighty and Evan Turner, No. 20 Ohio State might have fallen right in.
Lighty scored 20 points, including 18 in the second half, and the Buckeyes rallied past pesky Iowa 65-57 on Wednesday night for its fourth straight Big Ten win.
Turner added 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for Ohio State (15-6, 5-3), which scored a season-low 20 points in the first half and trailed by five at the break. But the Buckeyes closed the game with a 20-7 run and won on the road for only the second time this season.
Ohio State shook off that sluggish start behind Lighty and Turner. They combined to score 32 of Ohio State’s 45 points in the second half to help stave off Iowa’s upset bid.
“We finally got the ball to go in the basket for us. That I think took a little of their momentum out of them,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “That goes to the composure, that we were finally able to go out and get some easy ones.”
Ohio State took its first lead of the second half with 2:46 left, jumping ahead 52-50 on a runner by Lighty. Turner, who also had just two points in the first half, then got a steal and an easy dunk to put the Buckeyes ahead 55-50. Turner’s layup through traffic made it 57-50 with 1:04 left.
Freshman Eric May tied a career high with 18 points for Iowa (8-13, 2-6).
Ohio State, whose only other road win came at Purdue on Jan. 12, now returns home for a three-game homestand and a chance to make its move up the Big Ten standings.
That’s certainly good news for the Buckeyes, who are 12-0 at home this season.
“Somebody’s going to make a run, and we’re going to try to,” Turner said.
Turner broke through with a long 3-pointer to help Ohio State pull even at 28, but he picked up his third foul with 15:29 left and had to be careful defensively the rest of the way.
The Buckeyes then fell into a shooting funk, and the Hawkeyes stretched a slim lead to 42-36 on a pair of 3s by May with just under 10 minutes to go.
Ohio State closed within two before May’s 3 from the corner made it 50-45 Iowa with 4:46 left.
The Hawkeyes seemed poised to pull off their first win over a ranked team this season. But their inexperience was evident from then on, as Ohio State grabbed control shortly thereafter.
“We just made too many errors to beat a team like this,” Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said.
May was the only Iowa player in double figures. Jarryd Cole scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds and freshman Cully Payne added six assists and six rebounds.
Iowa held Turner to 1-of-3 shooting in the first half, and Payne cut through the lane for a nifty reverse scoop off the glass to help put the Hawkeyes ahead 25-20 at halftime.
Ohio State shot a somewhat respectable 40 percent in the first half, but didn’t hit a 3-pointer or a free throw until the second half.
“They were playing at their momentum, at their pace. They were allowed to be physical with us, and that really helped them a lot,” Turner said. “Once we got stops and ran in transition, we were fine.”
The fortunes of the inexperienced Hawkeyes had improved in the past two weeks after an ugly start to league play. Though they crumbled down the stretch, Wednesday’s effort was yet another sign of progress for a team with four underclassmen in the starting lineup.
The Hawkeyes snapped a four-game losing streak with a 67-62 home win over Tennessee State—a game they were lucky to win—and then beat Penn State 67-64 for their first Big Ten victory.
Iowa put a decent scare into No. 5 Michigan State on Jan. 20, closing within three late before falling 70-63, and then pounded host Indiana 58-43 on Sunday.
William Buford scored 11 points with eight rebounds and three assists for Ohio State, which fell at ninth-ranked West Virginia 71-65 on Saturday.
The Buckeyes committed just five turnovers—including one in the second half—and shot 13-of-17 from the free throw line in the second half.
Matt Gatens, Iowa’s leading scorer, fought through a sore ankle for 38 minutes but had just six points.
“I’m really disappointed, not in their effort, just disappointed in the outcome,” Lickliter said. “It was ours to control and we didn’t. We just didn’t finish it.”