IOWA CITY, Iowa – Freshman Jared Sullinger had 24 points and 12 rebounds and No. 2 Ohio State rallied to overtake Iowa 73-68 on Tuesday night.
Jon Diebler added 14 points for the Buckeyes (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten), who have won five straight over the Hawkeyes for the first time in school history.
Iowa cut Ohio State's 13-point lead to 71-68 on Zach McCabe's 3-pointer with 24 seconds left. But Aaron Craft made two free throws and forced a turnover to put the upset-minded Hawkeyes away.
Ohio State had some trouble early with Iowa (7-7, 0-2) and trailed 35-29 at halftime. But the Buckeyes opened the second half with a 29-10 run — then hung on as the Hawkeyes made one final push.
Freshman Melsahn Basabe had a career-high 22 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks for the Hawkeyes, the only team in the conference with a .500 record.
Sullinger had 11 points in the first 8½ minutes of the second half, and two 3s by Diebler put Ohio State ahead 58-45 with 8:40 left.
It was surprising to see the Buckeyes down six points at halftime. It was even less shocking to see them erase that deficit in less than 3 minutes.
Ohio State simply pounded it inside to Sullinger for three baskets from the same spot to take their first lead, 38-36. Iowa kept it close for a bit, but the Buckeyes pushed it to 51-45 on Dallas Lauderdale's tip-in as the Hawkeyes struggled to knock down the shots they had been making.
Diebler then delivered two crushing blows, following a 3 from the wing with a contested one from the corner to make it a 13-point game with 8:40 to go.
Iowa cut Ohio State's lead to 69-65 on 3 from Matt Gatens and to 71-68 on McCabe's 3. David Lighty then slipped to the court but called time out, and Craft's two free throws and steal of Bryce Cartwright ended the suspense.
Gatens and Jarryd Cole both scored 14 points for Iowa.
Iowa was without starting forward Eric May, who missed the game because of a leg injury.
It was just the second halftime deficit of the season for Ohio State. The Buckeyes blew past Florida in the second half for a 93-75 win in Gainesville on Nov. 16, but this one proved to be much tougher.
Even the most ardent Ohio State fans had to have their attention divided since the Buckeyes and Arkansas kicked off in the Sugar Bowl about 30 minutes before the start of the basketball game.