Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - The 14th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will try to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time this season when they play host to the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Big Ten Conference bout at Value City Arena on Tuesday night.
After losing its first three Big Ten contests, Iowa got back on track last week with a win at Northwestern (70-50) and a home triumph over Wisconsin (70-66). The Hawkeyes' small run has allowed them to move to 13-5 overall, although their only previous road game against a nationally-ranked team did not go very well, as they suffered a 95-67 loss at Michigan on Jan. 6.
Ohio State has been one of the best teams in the country, racking up 13 wins in its first 17 matchups, but it dropped a tough conference road game this past Saturday in a 59-56 decision at nationally-ranked Michigan State to fall to 3-2 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have played exceptionally well on their home floor however, going 10-1 in Columbus.
The all-time series between these two programs could not have been played any tighter after 150 meetings, as each side has won 75 times. The Buckeyes have evened it up in recent years thanks to seven straight victories over the Hawkeyes.
Iowa was able to open up an 18-point lead at the half over Wisconsin its last time out, and while its advantage was cut to just three in the final minute, it was able to hold on for the conference victory. Iowa held on down the stretch thanks to a fantastic 24-of-29 showing at the free-throw line, with Aaron White (17 points) doing most of the damage by going 13-of-15. Roy Devyn Marble added 13 points, while Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons pitched in 11 and 10 points, respectively. On the season, the Hawkeyes own the fourth-ranked scoring offense in the Big Ten, putting up 73.9 ppg on 44.3 percent field goal shooting. Their success at the foul line has been sustained, as it attempts more than 24 free throws per contest at a 71.5 percent clip (second in the conference). Marble nets a team-high 14.9 ppg, while White brings 13.5 ppg and 6.2 rpg to the table while shooting better than 55 percent from the floor. Gesell (8.9 ppg) connects on fewer than 40 percent of his field goal attempts, but helps make up for it with 3.1 apg and 1.3 spg.
Ohio State had its hands full against Michigan State in East Lansing, and while it managed to tie the game with 57 seconds left on a pair of Deshaun Thomas free throws, it could not complete the comeback. The team only shot 40.4 percent from the field, with a large chunk of that production coming from an outstanding performance from Thomas, who shot 10-of-20, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range for 28 points. Aaron Craft managed just five points on 2- of-8 shooting but he chipped in six assists and five steals in the setback. Thomas has been great all season long, as he scores a Big Ten-best 20.8 ppg and also grabs a team-high 6.6 rpg. Lenzelle Smith, Jr. shoots 3-pointers at a 42 percent clip on his way to 10.1 ppg, and while Craft's field goal efficiency has been less than desirable (.385), he has made his mark with an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio (80-to-27) and nearly two steals per contest. As a team, the Buckeyes average 73.4 ppg, but the biggest reason for their success has been their effort at the defensive end as they allow just 57.9 ppg on 38.2 percent field goal shooting, both of which rank second in the league.