At a loss to explain Ohio State finds few reasons for late collapse

March 13, 1991|By Jack Patterson | Jack Patterson,Knight-Ridder

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two hours later, Ohio State basketball star Jim Jackson would pick up his chin and realize that the world hadn't come to an end.

But immediately after an 80-69 loss to Iowa Sunday, Jackson was wondering where the season had gone for the Buckeyes.

"We have to put this out of our minds, or we'll lose in the first round of the [NCAA] tournament," Jackson said of a second consecutive loss, which closed Ohio State's regular season.

Later, Jackson would learn Ohio State had drawn the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional, where it will play Towson State in the first round at Dayton, Friday at 7:35 p.m. (Ch. 11).

That made the Iowa loss easier to take, especially considering that the oddsmakers have made Towson State (19-10) a 5,000-to-1 shot to win the national championship.

But Jackson and his teammates were shaken by the two straight losses, as Ohio State's record dropped to 25-3 overall, 15-3 in the Big Ten. That permitted Indiana to snatch half of a conference crown the Buckeyes had sought since 1971.

"We knew what we had to do and we still couldn't do it," Ohio State forward Treg Lee said. "We've got to start looking in the mirror and ask ourselves, 'Do we really want to be champions?' "

"It's less special," Jackson said of sharing the conference crown with Indiana. "It's like it didn't do us any good to beat them twice during the season.

"We had two chances to win it all and we blew them both," he said with a sigh.

"Our defense and rebounding has been suspect in the last two games," Jackson said. "That's why we lost."

Jackson had his usual strong game against Iowa, with 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting. He also had six assists, two blocked shots and two steals.

The 24 points give him 1,008 for two seasons. He is only the second sophomore in Ohio State history to crack the 1,000-point barrier. Herb Williams was the other in 1978-79.

Jackson, 6 feet 6 and 210 pounds, was named to the Associated Press All-America second team earlier this week. And Ohio State coach Randy Ayers was named Coach of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association yesterday.

Ayers, 34, is in his second season as head coach at Ohio State. He spent six years as an assistant with the Buckeyes before taking over when Gary Williams left for Maryland.

The Buckeyes finished the season ranked fifth nationally, their .. highest ranking since 1979. This year's team set several school records, including most regular-season and Big Ten victories and most 100-point games (seven).

Ayers was previously named Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the conference coaches and the media. He has a 42-16 career record and 25-11 Big Ten record.

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