The Basketball Buckeyes, just nine days removed from scoring 44 points at Michigan State, including a miserable 13 in the second half, erupted Tuesday night against No. 21 Iowa. Ohio State (18-10, 8-9 Big Ten) scored 54 points in the second half and had their second highest point total of the season and highest in Big Ten play in a 90-70 victory over the Hawkeyes.
The catalyst for the offensive explosion was an unlikely source---freshman Justin Ahrens. His performance was like nothing I've ever seen. With four games to go in the season, Ahrens had never scored in double-figures, had scored a total of 38 points--30 in Big Ten play, and for the season, he had made nine 3-pointers and one free throw .
Against Iowa, Ahrens went for 29 points---25 in the second half when he made all 6 of his 3-point attempts. Actually, he did miss a three---but he was fouled on the shot and proceeded to sink all three free throws. By the end of the night Ahrens had been to the foul line nine times and made every one.
"What I've seen in the past is freshmen emerge late the the season because they understand the game better and their shot selection gets better," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. "I think I have seen that, but I can't say I've ever seen something like this."
How historic was Ahrens performance? The six 3-pointers tied an Ohio State record for the most threes in a game by a freshman. The guy he tied is named D'Angelo Russell, who just played in the NBA All-Star game.
"If I got the ball, when I got hot, it was going up," Ahrens said. "I was really hot out there. It felt good and my teammates were feeding me really well."
The Buckeyes did a lot of feeding, finishing the night with 19 assists. In the second half, Ohio State made 15 field goals---12 of them were assisted.
"I thought our guys played really unselfishly," Holtmann said. "Obviously, Justin making some of those threes against the press and making some open shots was critical."
The Ahrens performance was the headliner but the contributions Tuesday night were numerous. Four other Buckeyes scored in double figures, including Kaleb Wesson who had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. His brother Andre played all but 6 seconds of the game, finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots, including a spectacular play when he stuffed Iowa's Isaiah Moss on what looked like a sure fire fast break basket. Keyshawn Woods scored 13 and freshman Duane Washington had 10--all in the first half, helping the Buckeyes to a 36-33 lead at the break.
The win is Ohio State's first over a ranked team all season. They play another one Saturday when they visit No. 11 Purdue.
The Justin Ahrens highlights were numerous. Here's a few of them and the huge block by Andre Wesson, as well as Ahrens post-game interview, when he was mobbed by Kaleb and Andre Wesson and Luther Muhammed on the Big Ten Network.