DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- With off-the-court issues swirling
around the program and a grueling stretch of games that left the
team exhausted, Ohio State's best start in 15 years has not been an
But second-year coach Thad Matta believes that adversity has
brought out the best in the Buckeyes.
Je'Kel Foster scored 28 points and Ohio State went on an 18-7
run down the stretch to beat Iowa State 70-67 on Saturday night,
giving the Buckeyes seven straight wins to open the season for the
first time since 1990-91.
The victory capped a stretch of four games in eight days -- and
three different cities -- all played as the media's attention has
been focused on the ongoing lawsuit filed by former coach Jim
O'Brien against the university claiming he was improperly dismissed
in June 2004.
"I want these guys to enjoy this because they've been through a
lot. Every day they just come in and go to work," Matta said.
"All coaches talk about toughness and adversity. The way it all
played out helps drive home the point of what we're trying to do
Down 60-52 with 6:39 left, Ohio State (7-0) rallied and retook
the lead, 63-62, with 1:35 left on a layup by Ron Lewis. Foster
made two free throws to put the Buckeyes ahead 65-64, and Will
Blalock missed a runner on Iowa State's ensuing possession. Jamar
Butler's free throws pushed the lead to 67-64, and Anthony Davis
sealed the Cyclones' fate by airballing a 3-pointer with 17 seconds
Iowa State's Curtis Stinson hit a 30-footer as time expired.
"We weren't moving fast enough, like we normally move. We
didn't put a lot of pressure on the ball like we normally do,"
Iowa State forward Rahshon Clark said.
Ohio State hasn't been unbeaten after seven games since that
1990-91 team, led by Jim Jackson, started 17-0 and reached as high
as No. 2 in the rankings.
"I remember that whole team. I could tell you the starting
five, the first person off the bench. That was a real good team,"
Ohio State's J.J. Sullinger said. "We really don't want to compare
ourselves to them yet, but we are excited about being 7-0."
Ohio State led by three following a 16-6 run to open the second
half. But the Cyclones responded with a 10-0 run and went back on
top 55-48. That run was highlighted by an alley-oop dunk from
Clark, who caught the pass at his chest, switched hands in mid air
and dunked with one hand.
The Cyclones finished the first half on an 8-2 run to take a
39-32 lead. Iowa State shot 61 percent in the first half and
freshman Shawn Taggart, who scored just two points in Iowa State's
last two games, led the charge with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting
from the field.
"This game had a lot more positives than negatives. The only
negative is the final score," Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan said.
Foster went 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half to lead
the Buckeyes, who missed a number of easy baskets in the opening 20
minutes but went 6-for-12 from beyond the arc.
Curtis Stinson led Iowa State with 17 points, and Taggart added
13. Lewis scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Ohio
The Buckeyes are 4-0 all-time against Iowa State.