IOWA CITY, Iowa — Next season, Iowa will have to learn to cope with losing one of the nation’s best players.
The Hawkeyes had no problem winning without star Peter Jok on Saturday.
Brady Ellingson came off the bench to score 17 points and Iowa pounded Ohio State 85-72, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Reserve freshman Ryan Kriener had 14 for the Hawkeyes (12-10, 4-5 Big Ten), who won despite missing Jok — a senior who sat out to rest a nagging back injury. McCaffery said Jok’s status is day to day.
“It’s sort of immeasurable,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said about winning without Jok. “What we saw was just a lot more aggressiveness from other people, and that’s what I want them to be.”
Jok, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 21 points a game, had started 56 games in a row for the Hawkeyes. But Iowa played inspired in his absence, jumping ahead by 11 at halftime and getting its first 61 points from underclassmen.
“(Jok) told us that we can’t look to him to hit a tough shot or carry the load,” Kriener said. “He pretty much challenged us to have everyone step up and I think we did.”
Jae’Sean Tate scored 17 on 8 of 10 shooting to lead the Buckeyes (13-9, 3-6), who fell to 1-4 on the road after an effort that resembled an 89-66 loss at Wisconsin two weeks ago.
Ohio State, which trailed by as much as 20, let Iowa shoot 50 percent and needed a late run made the final score as close as it was. Coach Thad Matta placed the blame for the defeat on the Buckeyes‘ lackluster defensive effort.
“We’ve got to try harder,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “I tried everything in my arsenal. It wasn’t clicking.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Ohio State: So much for those improved Buckeyes. Ohio State, which had won three of four, let Iowa jump all over it in the first half — and things only got worse from there. At 3-6 in the Big Ten, even a return trip to the NIT might be a stretch at this point.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have proven they can play well at home, though doing so without Jok was a bit of a surprise. But if Iowa wants to push for an NIT bid — which would be a positive step for such a young team — it’ll have to steal a few road games over the next few weeks.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
It was nights like this that have Iowa fans salivating about the future. Freshman Tyler Cook had 13 points, Jordan Bohannon scored 12 and Kriener grabbed seven rebounds. “You want to see guys figure it out on the fly,” McCaffery said.
Ohio State was 7 of 22 from 3-point range, and it shot 34 percent in the first half from the floor. Kam Williams scored 14 points with four assists and JaQuan Lyle had 12. …Iowa’s bench scored 44 points, while the Buckeyes got just 20 from theirs. …It could have been worse for Ohio State had Iowa not shot 11 of 20 from the line. …Forwards Dom Uhl and Cordell Pemsl combined to dish out 11 assists, and Nicholas Baer had six points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks for Iowa.
HE SAID IT
“We didn’t guard anybody. We made it so easy. The shots they got were open,” Matta said. “We weren’t good.”