COLUMBUS — That was just what the doctor ordered.
A sluggish Value City Arena crowd became more and more boisterous as the game went on, relishing every moment of Ohio State’s lopsided 79-48 victory over Iowa on Wednesday night.
The fans seemed subdued during the early going — barely finding the energy to raise their hands to their mouths and boo the Hawkeye players as they ran onto the court — and it was obvious that Columbus was still suffering an emotional hangover from Ohio State’s uninspired football effort in Monday night’s loss to LSU in the BCS National Championship Game.
But on Wednesday, the Buckeye faithful — especially the student sections at both ends of the court — chanted, screamed and roared after every thunderous play, even when Ohio State was pushing its lead near 40 points early in the second half.
Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said he was glad his team could provide the fans some positive moments, especially because they failed to do so last season after the OSU football team layed a nearly identical egg against Florida in the BCS title game.
“It’s funny because I talked to the team about this (before the game),” Matta said. “Last year at this particular time there was a black cloud floating over the city and it actually got into our team. I said we’ve got to bring our own energy and that was one of the key worries — bringing focus and energy into this game tonight.”
If the victory managed to help Buckeye Nation with its emotional healing, then just about every member on the OSU roster deserved an honorary medical degree.
Hand sophomore forward David Lighty, who finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, a stethoscope.
Give senior captain Jamar Butler, who Matta said was “questionable to even go,” a lab coat and tongue depressor after he battled through the flu to dish out eight assists in the first 15 minutes of the game.
Pass senior forward Othello Hunter, who went 7-of-9 for 14 points, the defibrillator.
“Our defense got us going tonight,” Lighty said. “We pressured the ball really well and got lots of steals. It was a fun game to play because everybody got involved.”
But while the starters had the game put away before halftime, it may have been the reserves that came in for mop-up duty that filled the biggest prescriptions of all.
Seldom-used freshman guard Eric Wallace finished with a career-high 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds in 16 second-half minutes, sophomore point guard P.J. Hill added seven points and three assists — one a no-look pass to Wallace for a thunderous two-handed dunk — and sophomore Mark Titus, who finished with one rebound and one personal foul, got the loudest ovation of the night.
“The fans love Titus, and I don’t know why,” Butler said. “No, he’s really a funny guy. He was the guy that after we returned last season from the Final Four, said, ‘I talked it over with my parents and decided to return to Ohio State for my sophomore season.’”
The lone bright spot for Iowa was junior shooting guard Tony Freeman — who finished with 21 points — and even things got tough for him as he provided the Buckeye fans some comic relief when one of his passes went into the waiting arms of an OSU cheerleader.
“I’m not the first coach and we’re not the first team to have to go through something like this,” Hawkeyes coach Todd Lickliter said. “I’m just thankful it wasn’t worse. Tonight could have been as bad as Ohio State wanted to make it.”
Ohio State is off to its first 3-0 start in the Big Ten since 1991, when the Buckeyes began 7-0.
• OSU has won its last 19 Big Ten games.
• The Buckeyes start a three-game road trip Saturday at Purdue then make stops at No. 6 Michigan State and No. 8 Tennessee.
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com.
Ohio State 79, Iowa 48
IOWA (7-9): Tate 4-5 2-3 10, Gorney 0-1 1-2 1, Freeman 9-19 0-0 21, Johnson 3-13 0-0 9, Kelly 0-6 0-0 0, Angle 0-4 0-0 0, Bohall 0-1 0-0 0, Peterson 0-3 0-0 0, Looby 3-4 1-2 7. Totals 19-56 4-7 48.
OHIO ST. (12-3): Turner 2-4 1-2 6, Koufos 3-7 0-0 6, Hunter 7-9 0-0 14, Butler 3-7 0-0 8, Lighty 6-8 0-1 14, Wallace 4-8 2-2 10, Hill 3-6 0-0 7, Peters 1-2 0-0 2, Madsen 0-1 0-0 0, Diebler 1-5 4-4 6, Titus 0-0 0-0 0, Terwilliger 1-2 0-0 2, Lauderdale 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 33-63 7-9 79.
Halftime—Ohio State 45-17. 3-Point Goals—Iowa 6-33 (Freeman 3-10, Johnson 3-13, Bohall 0-1, Peterson 0-2, Kelly 0-3, Angle 0-4), Ohio St. 6-20 (Lighty 2-2, Butler 2-5, Turner 1-3, Hill 1-3, Koufos 0-1, Terwilliger 0-1, Peters 0-1, Diebler 0-4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Iowa 33 (Johnson 7), Ohio St. 36 (Wallace 8). Assists—Iowa 9 (Freeman 3), Ohio St. 20 (Butler 9). Total Fouls—Iowa 13, Ohio St. 9. A—18,473.