Welcome to the second round of Iowa-Ohio State. The all-time series is 76-76 and Iowa won the last meeting 84-74 on Jan. 12 in Columbus.
In the latest USA Today/Coaches Poll, Iowa is ranked 13th and Ohio State is 24th. Both teams are 17-5 overall, but Iowa is 6-3 in Big Ten play while Ohio State is 4-5.
It's the second straight week Iowa appears on ESPN's "Super Tuesday." Mike Tirico, the voice of "Monday Night Football," performs play-by-play, while Dan Dakich provides color commentary. Iowa also appears on "Super Tuesday" on Feb. 18 at Indiana.
Iowa's victory at then-No. 3 Ohio State provided a statement that Iowa is a contender in the Big Ten, Tirico said.
"I thought that win for Iowa at Columbus was the one that showed the whole conference, 'Hey, this is a different Iowa team this year,'" Tirico said. "Ohio State knows that, and Ohio State just won in Madison, which is no easy place to beat Bo (Ryan) and his team. That really adds to the backdrop of (tonight) a lot. The first meeting and Ohio State’s chance to climb back in the upper third of the conference.
"Early in the season I thought that was a big belief game for Iowa. To go on the road and beat somebody with the pedigree of four straight Sweet Sixteens, a Final Four and an Elite Eight the prior two years. I really thought Iowa needed one of those, these guys needed one of those to believe in themselves.
"We’ve learned Ohio State isn’t as good as they were and Iowa is better than what they were from the prior year. Although the heavyweights of the Big Ten and the power of the conference isn’t as good this year, but I love the fact that any team can win any night. Penn State and Nebraska are winning road games here, and we didn’t see that happening in the last year or so. They’re good teams."
Iowa will wear gold tonight, as will most of the crowd. Officials are Terry Wymer, Donnie Eppley and Earl Walton.
It was a week of streaks for Iowa recently. The Hawkeyes' 20-game home win streak ended with a 71-69 overtime loss to Michigan State last Tuesday night. Iowa then ended an 11-game losing skid at Illinois with an 81-74 victory last Saturday.
Ohio State has struggled since opening the season 15-0. The Buckeyes have lost five of their last seven games. One of those wins happened Saturday, 59-58, at Wisconsin.
Forward LaQuinton Ross leads the Buckeyes in scoring at 14.1 points a game. He's also the team's second-leading rebound at 5.5 points a game.
"He's a terrific jump shooter," Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. "He's got a versatile game. He's got enough size to post up. He's got a little in-between game, the shot-fake driving, you know, he's able to shoot the ball at crunch time. He makes his free throws. He gets to the free-throw line. He's just one of the many guys in our league that is really talented offensively and you've got to pay attention to him."
But when you talk Ohio State -- at least for the rest of this year -- Aaron Craft is the team's main force. He puts up 9.1 points a game, but scoring is secondary to his complete game. He leads the team in assists (106) and ranks second all-time in Big Ten steals (301). He's Ohio State's all-time assists leader (636). He ranks first in the Big Ten in steals and third in assists.
"I love watching Aaron Craft play college basketball," Tirico said. "He had struggled a bit this year offensively. But I love watching him play. I wish everybody who has some talent can bring that kind of passion to the game. The guy dives for loose balls, makes his teammates better, constant defensive pressure, really good attitude, he’s just the quintessential player."
Iowa counters with Devyn Marble, who averages 16.3 points a game, seventh in the Big Ten. Marble also is fifth in steals and 13th in assists.
"What I like with Devyn is he’s in a couple of weekend games in a row now, at Northwestern and then at Illinois, where he struggled in the first half, and then he’s bounced back from adversity to have a really good second half and lead his team in both cases to victory," Tirico said.
Gabe Olaseni scored eight points to pace Iowa to a 33-31 halftime lead. Olaseni scored on all four shot attempts and also pulled down four rebounds.
Iowa led 17-15 on an Olaseni jumper, but then Ohio State cruised to an 9-0 run. The Buckeyes took advantage of three turnovers, and scored layups from Aaron Craft, Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross. Craft ended the run with a 3-pointer to put the Buckeyes up 26-17.
The Hawkeyes immediately got back in the game. Adam Woodbury scored inside and was followed by a Zach McCabe 3-pointer. Off a Thompson' missed 3-pointer, Mike Gesell scored on a layup and was fouled. He completed the three-point play to cut Iowa's deficit to one point.
The teams traded baskets and Craft drilled another 3-pointer to push Ohio State up 31-27. The Hawkeyes cut their deficit to one point on a Devyn Marble three-point play, and Aaron White tied it up with a free throw.
With Ohio State milking the clock late, Marble secured a steal from Craft, passed to Gesell, who then tossed ahead to White for a wide-open dunk to give Iowa the advantage.
Craft scored 14 points, his best in conference play this year. Iowa outrebounded Ohio State 22-13 but shot just 1 of 11 from 3-point range. Iowa outscored Ohio State 24-16 in the paint and 13-1 in bench points. But Ohio State was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Ohio State reversed an earlier home loss to Iowa by beating the Hawkeyes 76-69 tonight. Ohio State shot 51 percent from the floor. Aaron Craft scored 17 points on 6-7 shooting for the Buckeyes.
Mike Gesell scored 16 points and Gabe Olaseni added 14 for Iowa. Devyn Marble chipped in with 10.Iowa shot 3-of-20 from 3-point range (15 percent) and was 12-of-19 from the free-throw line. Ohio State had five scorers in double figures.