Value City Arena
Thad Matta's Buckeyes have little time to brood over their first loss of the season. Such is life in the Big Ten. Fresh off dropping a 72-68 heartbreaker in overtime against Michigan State on Tuesday, a game that saw the team mount a furious comeback to erase a 17 point deficit in the second half, Ohio State will face another stiff test today against a dangerous, high-scoring Iowa team.
"You get knocked down and you gotta get back up again," Matta said on Friday.
Getting back up against the Hawkeyes will require the kind of effort and defensive intensity the Buckeyes showed in the final eight minutes against the Spartans, as well as bounce back games from the team's two leading scorers, LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who shot a combined 4-18 from the floor for 12 points in the Breslin Center, and were largely absent from the game during crunchtime.
Fran McCaffery's squad is experienced, balanced, and deep. Their three losses this season have all come against teams currently ranked in the top ten in Villanova, Iowa State, and Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes are 7th in the country in scoring at 86.5 points per game, 3rd in rebounding, and tenth in assists. This is not a team the Buckeyes can take lightly.
Iowa is led by senior guard Roy Devyn Marble, a do everything type of player who averages 16 points a game as well as nearly 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. The 6'6" Marble is one of three Hawkeyes with 1,000 career points.
Aaron White, a native of Strongsville, Ohio, is another do everything type for the Hawkeyes who has scored 1,000 career points. The 6'9" junior swingman is one of the most efficient players in the country, with a PER of 27.4. White shoots over 65 percent from the floor, is second on the team in scoring at 13.4 per game, and leads the team in rebounding with 6.6 per game. Along with Marble and sophomore point guard Mike Gesell, White will keep Ohio State's perimeter defense on its toes all game.
The perimeter game of Iowa is nicely complemented by the team's stable of big men, anchored by seniors Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe, junior Gabriel Olaseni, and sophomores Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury. Basabe, another 1,000 point career scorer, hauls in nearly 7 boards a game, while Uthoff is third on the team in scoring at just over 10 points per game. This is a deep, physical frontcourt, and Ohio State displayed a bit of a weakness against Michigan State's tough front line. Amir Williams and Trey McDonald will need to bring a better activity level and stay out of foul trouble to contend with it.
McCaffery is returning to the sidelines after serving a one-game suspension for his outburst during the Wisconsin game last Sunday. Iowa rolled over Northwestern in the game on Thursday night without their coach, 93-67, but a Fran McCaffery bobblehead promotion had to be postponed.
Despite the loss to Michigan State, the Buckeyes put the entire country on notice that no lead is safe against them. With Ross and Smith on the bench, senior Aaron Craft, juniors Sam Thompson and Shannon Scott, and freshman Marc Loving keyed the team's comeback, erasing the largest deficit they have faced this season during the last seven minutes with a 20-3 run. Scott was inches away from winning the game as time expired, with a layup falling off the front of the rim into the hands of the Spartans' Adreian Payne. Thompson, who had struggled in recent games, had a game-high 18 points off the bench, and Loving, the true freshman from Toledo, added 10 and played significant minutes during big moments.
A single loss in the Big Ten is not a season-destroyer by any means. It is unlikely any team will get through conference play without at least a couple of notches in the L column. The Buckeyes would like to avoid getting that second notch at Value City Arena today, but they're going to face a stern test.
Numbers to Know
The last time the Buckeyes fell to Iowa on the hardcourt, a 53-48 loss in Iowa City. The Buckeyes starting five in the game consisted of Evan Turner, Jamar Butler, David Lighty, Kosta Koufos, and Othello Hunter. Justin Johnson had 24 points to pace the Hawkeyes.
The percentage of Iowa's rebounds that come on the offensive end. The Hawkeyes' 228 offensive rebounds on the season is the 8th-highest total in the country.
The difference between Iowa's average points per game and the average points allowed by Ohio State. The Hawkeyes' 86.5 points per game is 7th in the country, while the Buckeyes' 56 points per game allowed is 3rd. Something has to give.
Cast of Characters
After an ugly 1-7 shooting night against Michigan State, the Buckeyes' leading scorer is looking for a bounce back game. His 5 points against the Spartans was his lowest output in 11 games, and snapped a six-game streak of scoring in double figures.
The freshman forward played a season-high 23 minutes in the loss to Michigan State, many of those in place of Ross in the second half. Loving's 10 points marked his second consecutive game in double figures, and fourth of the season, but ended in disappointment as he misfired on a last-ditch three-point attempt at the end of overtime that sealed the Spartans' victory.
Roy Devyn Marble
The senior from Southfield, Michigan is the undisputed leader of the Hawkeyes. A third-team All-Big Ten performer as a junior, Marble was named to the NIT All-Tournament team last season. This season, he leads the team in scoring, steals, and minutes played. His father, Roy, is the Hawkeyes all-time leading scorer, and the two are the only father-son combination in Big Ten history with over 1,000 career points apiece.
The junior forward was a third-team All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore and joined the 1,000 career point club earlier this season. With a True Shooting percentage of 72.1, White is an efficient scorer on the perimeter, in the paint, and finishing the break. He leads the team in rebounding and free throw percentage and is second in scoring, steals, and minutes played.