COLUMBUS, Ohio — Melsahn Basabe visualized this performance against Ohio State. So did teammate Devyn Marble.
Basabe, an Iowa senior forward, reached the 1,000-point plateau Thursday with a double-double against Northwestern. But he needed to duplicate that effort Sunday against the Buckeyes, a team he had never beaten.
“He played real good. A double-double,” Marble said. ” That’s what I needed from him. I told him that, especially coming off the Northwestern performance. I said, ‘That’s cool and all. We need this against Ohio State.’ He said ‘OK, Dev,’ and went out and did it.”
Basabe scored 11 points, collected 10 rebounds for his 15th career double-double in an 84-74 win against the No. 3 Buckeyes. Basabe sat most of the first half with foul trouble, but he did his most damage with four fouls late in the game.
Basabe, a Glen Cove, N.Y. native, replaced Adam Woodbury with 3:22 left and the Hawkeyes clinging to a 70-68 lead. Thirty seconds into the game, Basabe tips in a Marble miss to give the Hawkeyes a four-point advantage.
“A huge play in the game,” Iowa teammate Aaron White said. “It’s almost a four-point swing because I remember the shot. No one was back, and they turn a shot like that into two points.”
Basabe then became a force on the defensive glass. On four of Ohio State’s next five possessions, the 6-foot-7 senior rebounded either a missed free throw or Ohio State miss. He turned those boards into points. He was fouled twice and sank three of four free throws.
“I just wanted this,” Basabe said. “I wanted it for coach (Fran McCaffery), my team and I just wanted to hold up my end. I was kind of in foul trouble today, but the whole game I felt like inside I just had the advantage. So even if I’m not going to get a post feed or the offensive rebound, I’m going to rebound at the other end. Just playing with energy and toughness. That was my mindset.”
“I put him in and he came up big for us,” McCaffery said. “He had a block and had some traffic rebounds and made some free throws. I’m thrilled for him.”
Basabe debuted auspiciously against the Buckeyes three years ago, scoring 22 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking six shots. He went toe-to-toe with Ohio State super freshman Jared Sullinger, who scored 24 and pulled down 12 rebounds.
But Basabe also was 0-4 lifetime against the Buckeyes, the only team he hadn’t beaten as a Hawkeye. His battle against Sullinger ended with a 73-68 Ohio State win. Iowa absorbed two poundings by a combined 51 points and ran out of gas in a nine-point loss last season.
It’s the history as much as the present that makes the result so sweet.
“This is your last year here, and I’ve been playing Ohio State four years and never got a win,” Basabe said. “I’ve been embarrassed by them. So we needed this. I wasn’t going to leave anything out there, just leave everything out on the court.”