Ohio State has a busy night on tap in the men's athletic department. Not only are the Buckeyes playing Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, but the men's basketball team is in Big Ten action at Iowa.
Ohio State began league play last Friday with an 85-67 romp over Indiana on the road. The Buckeyes are now 3-0 in true road games and pushed their overall mark to 14-0. They have played a rather soft schedule to date, but there are certainly a handful of teams in the Big Ten capable of posing a challenge.
Switching focus to Iowa, it carried a modest two-game win streak into last Wednesday's league opener against Illinois. Unfortunately, the home crowd watched on in disappointment as the Hawkeyes fell to the Illini by an 87-77 final. Iowa is now 7-6 overall, and only one of its losses has come by more than 10 points.
Iowa owns a 73-67 victory over Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have won the last four meetings.
Through 14 outings, Ohio State has been utterly dominant at both ends of the court. The Buckeyes are scoring 82.8 ppg on 50.5 percent shooting from the floor, including 40.1 percent efficiency from three-point range. Defensively, they are holding opponents to 54.7 ppg on 39.6 percent shooting. Strong rebounding has been key to the club's success, as it is pulling down 8.5 rpg more than the opposition. Also, Ohio State has committed 107 fewer turnovers than its opponents. Five players are averaging double figures in scoring for the well-balanced Buckeyes, and standout forward Jared Sullinger leads the way with 17.6 ppg on 60.1 percent shooting. Sullinger is also pulling down 10.1 ppg for Ohio State, which is getting 14.2 ppg from William Buford and 12.8 ppg from David Lighty. Jon Diebler (12.4 ppg) and Deshaun Thomas (11.4 ppg) have also been productive. In the 18-point win over Indiana last Friday, Buford poured in 24 points, while Sullinger finished with 19. The Buckeyes connected on 60.5 percent of their field goal attempts and earned a 30-20 rebounding advantage. A 26-8 edge in points from the foul line obviously helped the cause.
Iowa is generating 71.3 ppg this season, and the team is surrendering 63.1 ppg to opponents on just 40.9 percent field goal efficiency. Matt Gatens paces a trio of double-digit scorers with 12.5 ppg, and Eric May adds 11.2 ppg to the mix. As for Bryce Cartwright pitches in 10.5 ppg for Iowa, which is outrebounding foes by nearly six boards per contest. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes are shooting a mere 64 percent from the foul line, a figure that simply must improve. Against Illinois last week, Iowa shot just 8-of-15 from the charity stripe and could not fight back from a 13-point halftime deficit. Poor defense was the most obvious culprit in the setback, as the Hawkeyes permitted the Illini to shoot 66.7 percent from the field. Gatens nailed five three-pointers in that affair and finished with 21 points. Cartwright added 13 points and five assists, while May tallied 12 points. As for Jarryd Cole, he pitched in 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Hawkeyes simply do not have the talent to knock off the Buckeyes this evening. Ohio State will pull away in the second half for an easy victory.
GAME NOTES: The unbeaten and second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes invade Iowa City this evening for a Big Ten Conference clash with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) -- Iowa City, Iowa. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Ohio St. 11-0, Iowa 5-3. Away Record: Ohio St. 3-0, Iowa 1-1. Neutral Record: Ohio St. 0-0, Iowa 1-2. Conference Record: Ohio St. 1-0, Iowa 0-1. Series Record: Iowa leads, 73-67.