COLUMBUS, Ohio - Big Ten Conference basketball has returned in nail-biting fashion as the University of Iowa men's basketball team gave No. 23 Ohio State all it could handle before falling short, 68-65 inside Value City Arena.
Iowa is 10-4 overall, 0-1 in the league; Ohio State improved to 10-1, 1-0.
The Hawkeyes were on fire all game shooting 23 of 44 (52.2 percent) from the floor and 14 of 28 (50 percent) from three-point range. They also had 16 assists with 14 turnovers. Ohio State shot just as well, making an identical 23 of 44 from the field and 9 of 15 (60 percent) from long range.
UI freshman Matt Gatens exploded for 22 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point land and he also had the team-high in rebounds with five. Junior Devan Bawinkel added a career-high 15 points off the bench -- all coming from three-point range finish, where he finished 5 of 8. Sophomore Jake Kelly had 11 points and sophomore Jeff Peterson added nine points and eight assists.
"Bawinkel is a very good shooter," UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. "The thing about Devan is he is not going to be your defensive stopper, but he is very conscientious in the right possession on defense and he can stay solid. So far, he takes care of the basketball. He gives you great minutes off the bench."
Iowa went into intermission trailing by eight at 36-28.
"I thought the difference was our approach, our demeanor in the first half," Lickliter said. "I thought we got deflated in the first half, but not to the point that we caved. In the second we went in there and stood toe-to-toe with them for the most part."
"We hit a couple shots and we realized that we can play with these guys and beat these guys -- we can beat teams like this," Gatens said. "We need to come out with that type of mentality and get going that way. Right from the tipoff we need to have the mentality that we can win this game, we can win the next game, we can win any game out there in this Big Ten."
Iowa and Ohio State continued to swap leads before the Hawkeyes gave Kelly an open-look three-pointer with 32 seconds remaining as it hit the rim and bounced off. The Hawkeyes fouled Jon Diebler who gave the Hawkeyes life when he made only one of two from the charity stripe to give the Buckeyes a three-point advantage, 68-65, with 20.7 seconds remaining. Iowa put the ball into the hands of Gatens, who mis-fired a three to end the game.
"I thought we definitely got off to a slow start," Gatens said. "We fought back pretty hard late in the first half and the second half we played right with them. We had a chance to win the game and it's disappointing to let it go like that because we had the lead right there at the end. It would have been great to get this first win under our belt against a quality team like Ohio State, but it's disappointing and we have to go back to work."
The Hawkeyes look to start the New Year off with a showdown against Indiana on Saturday, Jan. 3, with a 3:35 p.m. tipoff inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.