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Crew fans get more on your favorite team
By Matt McCoy
To hear Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas and Thad Matta talk about Ohio State's 1st round NCAA tournament game with Iona click HERE
The Buckeyes NCAA tournament opener Friday night in Dayton against Iona can be filed under the 'something's got to give' category.
Iona, champions of the Metro Atlantic Conference, averages 80.7 points per game which is second best nationally. The Buckeyes, tournament champs in the Big Ten, won with defense, holding opponents to 57.9 points a night, which ranks 14th nationally. In Ohio State's eight game win streak, the numbers are even better.
No team has scored more than 60 points during this Buckeye run and the average points per game by opponents in the last eight is 52.75.
"We've played a lot of styles this year in the Big Ten with some people who like to get up and down (the court) and others who like to slow it down," Buckeye guard Aaron Craft said. "(Iona's) obviously on the more push it, trap side of things. I don't think we've played anyone this year that trys to (push the tempo) as much as they do. They're obviously a great team."
The match-up to watch Friday night is Craft and Iona point guard Lamont Jones, who averages 23 points a game. Jones is a transfer from Arizona and Buckeye coach Thad Matta said he's legit.
"He can score a lot of ways," Matta said. "He's got a lot of stuff to his game. He's got mid-range floaters, he gets to the rim and spins it off the glass. You have to attempt to keep him in front as much as you can and just have great awarness of where he is at all times while knowing the light doesn't get any greener for him."
Craft has dealt with the likes of Michigan star Trey Burke the last two years and for the most part, done an outstanding job. It will be interesting to see how the Jones-Craft match-up goes.
Jent lends advice
Deshaun Thomas led the Big Ten in scoring but his shooting percentage the last six weeks has been on the decline. Since the beginning of February, Thomas is shooting just 38 percent from the floor and 20 percent from 3-point range. He was just 17-47 (36 percent) at the Big Ten Tournament and just 3-20 (15 percent) on his 3-pointers.
He told us he's spent extra time shooting this week, with assistant coach Chris Jent and has also sat down with Jent to look at film.
"I was watching film with coach Jent and he said 'the bad shots you're taking are killing your percentage,'" Thomas said. "Coach and everyone are trying to encourage me to know when a defender flys out to put it on the floor or pump fake and then shoot it."
The Buckeyes could certainly use a hot shooting Thomas. During last year's run to the Final Four, Thomas emerged. Until his 3-14 shooting game in the National semifinal loss to Kansas, Thomas was arguably the key reason the Buckeyes made it to New Orleans. He averaged 21.75 points per game while shooting 52 percent. Chris Jent, Thad Matta and the Buckeyes would love to see that Deshaun Thomas again.
Iona provides material for Buckeye bullitin board
In Dayton Thursday, Ohio State players acknowledge that they had been made aware of comments made by Iona's top players Lamont Jones and Sean Armand.
"To me, it's not an upset, it's a game we should win, " Armand told the New York Post. "To the rest of the world, it's going to be an upset a 15-seed beating a 2, but if we win this game, we're doing what we're supposed to do."
Armand added "I'm planning to play on Sunday."
Jones told the Post, "I feel like we're supposed to win. It's not going to be like 'Oh, we beat Ohio State.' It's, 'OK, on to the next round and let's get this.'"
The Buckeyes hope to quiet the Iona stars and make sure history does not repeat itself.
The last time Ohio State played a Metro Atlantic Conference team in the NCAA tournament was in 2009...against Siena...in Dayton...when the Buckeyes lost in double-overtime.