Iowa Men's Basketball

Ohio State and Fran McCaffery both red hot in Iowa basketball's loss

Buckeyes rout Hawkeyes, 90-70, and McCaffery berates official afterward

Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffrey reacts on the sidelines during the second half of his team’s 90-70 loss against Ohio State Tuesday night at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffrey reacts on the sidelines during the second half of his team’s 90-70 loss against Ohio State Tuesday night at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Iowa’s 90-70 men’s basketball loss to Ohio State at Value City Arena wasn’t a profile in defensive presence, nor was it a portrait of behavioral poise.

From the Buckeyes’ side, freshman forward Justin Ahrens was scarlet hot, sinking six second-half 3-pointers in seven tries and scoring 25 points in the half. He finished with 29, which was 27 more than his season-average.

From the Hawkeyes’ side, player Connor McCaffery and head coach Fran McCaffery picked up technical fouls within 58 seconds of each other late in the game. As he was heading to the his team’s dressing room after leaving the main arena with his team at game’s end, Fran McCaffery had some pointed words for one of the officials in a hallway.

Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade witnessed McCaffery berating the official, saying McCaffery angrily told the official “You cheating mother (expletive)! You’re a (expletive) disgrace!” Rowland said McCaffery used those sentences more than once.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that one of its photographers overheard it. An Ohio State athletics information technology employee heard it, saying “It was bad.”

ESPN.com identified the official as Steve McJunkins. The other officials who worked the game were Paul Szelc and Brian Dorsey.

An OSU sports information official said the game officials were accompanied by a police officer as they left the building.

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As the score strongly indicates, the Hawkeyes didn’t lose this game because of officiating. They got woefully outplayed at the defensive end, as a 36-33 halftime deficit became 56-42 with 13:55 left, and Ohio State kept getting good looks at the basket in the paint and beyond the 3-point circle.

It was 78-67 when Connor McCaffery got his technical with 4:08 to go. McCaffery got bumped by OSU’s Keyshawn Woods when Woods had the ball and fell backward, but was charged with the personal foul. Then, a technical.

“I had no intention of getting a technical,” Connor McCaffery said. “(The official) sad it was my hand gesture. I turned away from him. I didn’t curse at him, I wasn’t yelling at him. I had no intention of getting one.

“I don’t know why, but I guess that was his decision to make.”

Ahrens made two free throws for the technical, Woods made two free throws for the personal, and it was 82-67. If Iowa had any hope of rallying to win before that sequence, it was gone.

Fifty-eight seconds later, Connor’s father got ‘T’d up. Ahrens made both foul shots from that one, too.

“I think that was just probably a little bit of frustration,” Connor said. “He had my back a little bit, too.”

Asked what his issues were with the officiating and if he said anything to an official after the game, Fran McCaffery replied “I can’t talk about that.”

About his son’s technical, he said “I asked him what happened. And he told me.”

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Big Ten coaches can’t publicly criticize officiating without risking suspension or fine. McCaffery did say “I’d love to. Trust me.”

Sideshow aside ... Iowa used a 15-3 run to take a 31-25 lead with 3:44 left in the first half, and then crumbled, particularly on defense. The Buckeyes finished the half with an 11-2 run for their three-point lead at the break, and that was despite making just 4 of 17 3-pointers.

However, they made 8 of 15 3s in the second half, and 57.7 percent of all their field goal tries in the half. The shooters, primarily Ahrens, got loose.

“I was really hot out there. It felt good,” said Ahrens, whose previous career-high was the nine points he scored in OSU’s previous game, his first college start.

Sophomore power forward Kaleb Wesson worked over Iowa down low for 18 points and 11 rebounds. OSU had a 36-26 rebounding edge. The Hawkeyes had only four offensive rebounds.

“We miss 29 shots and only get four back,” Fran McCaffery said. “It’s hard to go on the road and have that happen.”

Connor McCaffery and fellow Iowa guard Maishe Dailey both cited “defensive intensity” as lacking. The “90” on Ohio State’s score sheet would back that up.

“You can’t make excuses for how we played,” Connor McCaffery said. “Do we think we got a great whistle? Probably not. But I don’t think anyone expects a great whistle on the road in the Big Ten. That’s just part of the game.”

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No. 21 Iowa fell to 21-7 overall, 10-7 in the Big Ten. Ohio State improved to 18-10 and 8-9. The Hawkeyes’ next game is at home Saturday at 4 p.m. against Rutgers.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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