Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes recently suffered their first loss of the season, and they will try to get back on track this afternoon as they entertain the 20th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in Big Ten Conference action at Value City Arena.
Iowa comes into the contest sporting a 13-3 overall record, and the team has won two of its first three conference games. The Hawkeyes, who have yet to win a true road game this season (0-2), whipped visiting Northwestern in their most recent outing, 93-67, getting back to the kind of offensive production they have managed just about all season, but had lacked in their previous two outings.
Ohio State had run out to a 15-0 start, which included wins in each of its first two Big Ten bouts, but then came last Tuesday's showdown at Michigan State. The Spartans prevailed in that one, 72-68 in overtime, and while it was a disappointment, the Buckeyes have been known as a resilient bunch following a loss under head coach Thad Matta, going 55-18 in games the next time out. OSU is 12-0 at home this season.
Ohio State is clinging to a 76-75 series advantage over Iowa, getting there by winning the last eight meetings. The Buckeyes' current run of success is the longest for the team in the long-standing relationship with the Hawkeyes.
For Iowa to claim its first win over a top-5 team since 2001, the team's top scorers will all need to be on point. Roy Devyn Marble (16.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.4 apg), Aaron White (13.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.2 apg) and Jarrod Uthoff (10.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are all currently averaging double figures, but the team, which puts up a robust 86.5 ppg (eighth-best nationally) behind typical shooting efforts of .475 overall and .382 from 3-point range, is a rather complete one as six others net between 5.9 and 7.6 ppg. Factor in favorable margins in both rebounding (+9.9) and turnovers (+2.1), and it's not hard to see why Iowa has enjoyed a successful first couple of months to the season.
The Hawkeyes found their groove in the recent win over Northwestern, shooting 56.9 percent from the field, which included an 8-of-14 showing from beyond the arc. Conversely, the Wildcats made good on only 39 percent of their total shots, missing 19 of their 24 3-point tries along the way. Iowa claimed a 41-28 edge on the glass, while getting a pair of double-double performances from White (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Melsahn Basabe (16 points, 10 rebounds). Marble finished with 15 points and six assists, while Adam Woodbury chipped in with 10 points. White hit all 10 of his free throws, as Iowa made more foul shots (27) than Northwestern attempted (25).
Ohio State isn't quite as potent as Iowa is at the offensive end, but still the team's 75.2 ppg is nothing to sneeze at. Where the Buckeyes do earn their stripes however, is on defense as foes are scoring just 56.0 ppg (fourth-best in the country) in hitting a mere 37.5 percent (10th nationally) of their field goal attempts, which includes a 26.7 percent effort from 3-point range. Turnovers have also played an important role in the team's overall success, as it goads the opposition into more than 15 miscues per outing. OSO boasts only two double-digit scorers in LaQuinton Ross (13.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (12.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), but five others average between 7.0 and 9.6 ppg, demonstrating the kind of balance good teams need in order to become great teams.
Despite a sub par effort by their standards in last week's clash with Michigan State, the Buckeyes still had their chances in what wound up as a four-point overtime defeat. Ohio State shot just 41.4 percent from the floor, missing the mark on 14 of its 18 3-point tries, and the team was incredibly careless with the ball, nearly doubling its season average in turnovers (11 per game) by coughing it up 21 times. Sam Thompson paced the OSU scoring attack with 18 points, while Marc Loving added 10, but both came off the bench in order to do so, meaning no starter reached double figures in the game. In fact, the starting five went just 14-of-37 from the field (.378) and accounted for only 38 points. The Buckeyes did win the rebounding battle (42-28), and held a 16-9 edge in points from the foul line. MSU shot 11-of-19 from distance, but committed 17 turnovers.