Jan. 7, 2012

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Jared Sullinger scored a season-high 28 points and sixth-ranked Ohio State pounded Iowa 76-47 on Saturday.

Deshaun Thomas added 10 points for the Buckeyes, who won for the second time on the road.

Ohio State (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) went on a 16-2 run sandwiched around halftime to jump ahead 38-21 early in the second half. The Buckeyes steadily built that lead to 60-33 with just under eight minutes left and cruised to their third Big Ten win by at least 29 points.

Eric May had nine points to lead Iowa (10-7, 2-2).

The Hawkeyes, like most teams before them, had few answers for Sullinger.

Once Sullinger’s teammates got going, Iowa found itself overmatched.

Thomas, who’d been quiet early, hit a jumper and a layup to push Ohio State ahead 50-29. Aaron Craft then dished through a pair of Iowa defenders and led Sullinger to the basket, a brilliant play that sucked what little life was left from a near-sellout crowd.

William Buford finished with eight points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who shot 64.5 percent from the field in the second half.

But Buford couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, missing his first 10 shots. Sullinger picked him up, outscored cold-shooting Iowa by himself in the first 13 minutes as the Buckeyes jumped ahead 28-19 by halftime.

The Hawkeyes hit just five field goals in the first 20 minutes and had 12 turnovers against just one assist. Had Buford been able to hit a few shots, Ohio State might have put the game away much earlier than it did.

Buford finally broke through with a layup that gave Ohio State a 33-19 lead, forcing Iowa coach Fran McCaffery to call a quick timeout in an effort to keep things from getting worse.

It didn’t work. The Buckeyes pushed their edge to 38-21 two minutes into the second half as Craft cut to the hoop for a quick layup.

Iowa was dreadful from the floor, hitting just 17 of 53 shots while committing 20 turnovers.

For the first time in a while though, there was a big-game feel around Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes – who’d lost to Campbell by 16 points in this building six weeks ago – were coming off a pair of surprising Big Ten road wins. Iowa got past No. 18 Wisconsin 72-65, then held on to beat Minnesota 64-62.

It didn’t hurt that the Badgers and Gophers combined to shoot 7-of-51 from 3-point range. But the road winning streak, their first since 2007, seemed to indicate that the long-awaited revival of Hawkeyes basketball might finally be around the corner.

It certainly didn’t come Saturday.

Ohio State’s only blemishes came at Kansas, where they lost 78-67 in overtime without Sullinger, and a three-point defeat at surging Indiana. The Buckeyes sandwiched that loss to the Hoosiers with blowout wins over Northwestern and Nebraska – two teams picked along with Iowa near the bottom of the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes likely won’t be anywhere near the league basement, a point they drove home emphatically in Iowa City.