Roddy Gayle shines late, Ohio State knocks off Iowa to extend Big Ten tournament run

CHICAGO — The freshmen at Ohio State were the story of this season, for better or for worse.

On a Thursday afternoon at the United Center, Roddy Gayle put his name in the better category. The freshman guard hit the go-ahead-3 pointer, sunk two late free throws and helped the No. 13 Ohio State rally late and fended off the No. 5 seed Iowa 73-69 in the second round of the Big Ten tournament away.

The Buckeyes take on No. 4-seeded Michigan State at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET on Friday. In the first four games of this year’s Big Ten tournament, the lower-seeded team won each time.

“I think it speaks to the depth of the league, which we all know very well,” said Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann. “The league is really deep and balanced. I think we’re just focused on continuing to play well, which is what we’ve been doing for the past few weeks. I just want to focus on that.”

Iowa took a four-point lead with a dunk from Payton Sandfort to make it 8:59 to 55:51, and Ohio State equaled three times only to then give up the lead again.

On their fourth try, Gayle splashed a 3-pointer – his first since Feb. 23 – and gave the Buckeyes a 64-61 lead with a 3:23 play. The shot put him responsible for seven of Ohio State’s last nine points up to that point and marked the game’s 18th lead change.

“We practice this stuff, late moment games, time and score,” Gayle said. “It just felt comfortable, just felt like another shot, honestly another game.”

Iowa had a chance to retake the lead with 2:26 left, but Tony Perkins missed two free throws to keep Ohio State 64-63 ahead. The ball found its way to Justice Sueing on the left wing in a wild possession that saw the Hawkeyes nearly steal twice.

Ohio State forward Justice Sueing takes a shot at Iowa's Kris Murray.

Ohio State forward Justice Sueing takes a shot at Iowa’s Kris Murray.

With about three seconds left on the shot clock, he buried them for a 67-63 lead, and Ohio Sate held on from there despite a wild sequence with about 20 seconds remaining. Iowa’s pressure forced the ball under his own basket, and as players from each team threw their bodies at the ball, play continued toward the Ohio State basket before he was called dead with 11.5 seconds for a kicked ball.

The Buckeyes retained possession, Iowa fouled Sueing with 9.4 seconds left and he went on the line for a one-and-one. A 73.4 percent shooter this season, he hit the first, Iowa called timeout and he hit the second to set the final score.

Ohio State is the third No. 13 to win two games in the Big Ten tournament since the league expanded to 14 teams for the 2014-15 season. No team that played on Wednesday of the tournament advanced into the weekend.

Ohio State's Brice Sensabaugh dives against Iowa.

Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh dives against Iowa.

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Gayle scored all 9 of his points in the 6:02 final.

“In the last month we found a way to play properly when things didn’t go well,” said Holtmann. “We didn’t do this for long. We had to tap our teeth several times to understand that there is a way to play when you’re struggling, that’s the right way, and if you do that, you have a chance to win. And I think that confirms that.”

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann reacts during the second half of Thrusday's win over Iowa.

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann reacts during the second half of Thrusday’s win over Iowa.

When these teams last met, Ohio State’s defensive performance was historically poor. Not only did the Hawkeyes hit 56.9% of their shots in the 92-75 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on February 16, but Iowa’s adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 138.9 marked Ohio State’s highest in KenPom history .com approved is from the 2001/02 season.

Ohio State played at what appeared to be a more deliberate pace and was able to carve out a 29-28 lead at halftime while keeping the Hawkeyes on 2-of-10 shots from 3-point range. The Buckeyes broke a 28-all tie when Isaac Likekele pulled a foul on Connor McCaffery with 18.3 seconds left and hit one of two free throws. Iowa called a timeout, wrote a play for Kris Murray and had to settle for a deep, contested shot from the left wing that went wide.

The Hawkeyes had scored at least 42 points in the first half of each of their last three games.

“We’ve played our best basketball for the past few weeks, even though the results may not have shown it,” Sueing said. “I think it worked every day to come in with the mentality that everything will eventually fall into place and now everything is adjusting.”

Ohio State judge is suing Kris Murray of Iowa.

Ohio State judge is suing Kris Murray of Iowa.

After committing shot-clock violations on two of their first seven possessions of the game, the Buckeyes settled on a Bruce Thornton jumper in the paint that gave him a 9-6 lead in Iowa. Classmate Brice Sensabaugh followed with six straight points, and by the time Justice Sueing tapped on his own miss, Ohio State had a 14-13 lead and had scored on five straight possessions. The Buckeyes’ lead increased to six points in the first half when Sensabaugh drove, forcing Iowa’s defense to collapse and feeding Sean McNeil in the right corner for a 3-pointer.

That made it 21-15 to play with 7:48, but Iowa would hit back and take a 24-23 lead on a powerful right-handed slam dunk by Filip Rebraca with 4:58 left, and when Sensabaugh picked up his second foul with 4: With 25 remaining, the Hawkeyes had a chance to close with momentum. Instead, Isaac Likekele and Sueing forced Murray into a turnover, Sueing hit a jumper of his own and the Buckeyes were able to take the lead into the locker room.

Ohio State's Bruce Thornton races against Iowa's Ahron Ulis.

Ohio State’s Bruce Thornton races against Iowa’s Ahron Ulis.

@Adam Jardy

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This article originally appeared in The Columbus Dispatch: Roddy Gayle, Ohio State knocks out Iowa in Big Ten Tournament Roddy Gayle shines late, Ohio State knocks off Iowa to extend Big Ten tournament run

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