Dayton, OH (Sports Network) - Emerging from the highly-competitive Big Ten
Conference, the seventh-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes now find themselves pitted
against the Iona Gaels in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament at
Dayton Arena on Friday night.
The second seed in the West Region, Ohio State has just a single senior on the
roster, yet the program was able to keep up with the rest of the elite teams
in the Big Ten as it finished in a tie for second place with a record of 13-5.
The squad is currently enjoying an eight-game win streak after capturing the
conference tournament title in Chicago last weekend.
The Buckeyes began the Big Ten Tournament with a 71-50 win over Nebraska in
the quarterfinals and then progressed with a 61-58 triumph versus eighth-
ranked Michigan State, followed by a 50-43 decision against 22nd-ranked
Wisconsin in the championship round on Sunday.
Meanwhile the 15th-seeded Gaels, losers of all eight of their previous
official battles in the NCAA Tournament, gained access to the Big Dance by
virtue of their victory in the title game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference Tournament on March 11 versus Manhattan (60-57). Iona, which was
11-7 in conference this season and 20-13 overall, has an all-time record of
just 1-7 against currently members of the Big Ten.
In terms of the all-time series between the teams, each has won once with the
most recent meeting taking place during the 2008-09 campaign when the
nationally-ranked Buckeyes posted a 71-53 win in Columbus. The very first
encounter was part of the Great Alaska Shootout back in 1981 with the Gaels
slipping by with a 58-57 triumph in Anchorage.
According to OSU sources, the Buckeyes have a record of 45-23 in this event
over the years, advancing to the Final Four a total of 10 times and coming in
as the runner-up on four occasions (1939, 1961, 1962 and 2007). The squad won
it all back in 1960 when it needed just four victories to claim the crown. The
team's most recent appearance was in 2007 when it made it to the finals but
lost to Florida by a score of 84-75 in Atlanta.
The winner of this contest will go up against the survivor of the Iowa
State/Notre Dame matchup in the third round on Sunday for the right to advance
to the Sweet 16 next week in Los Angeles.
The first Iona player to lead the MAAC in scoring, placing third in the NCAA
overall, Lamont Jones was named the league's Player of the Year for his
efforts. He is scoring a hefty 23.0 ppg and thanks to that effort the program
was second in the country in scoring overall with 80.7 ppg, after pacing all
of Division I last season with 82.9 ppg. A transfer from Arizona, Jones is
shooting 44.4 percent from the floor this year and has made the most of his
trips to the free-throw line where he has gone 219-of-247 (.887). Also playing
a huge part in the team's success this season was Sean Armand who, when teamed
with Jones, formed the highest-scoring tandem in the nation, thanks to his
16.6 ppg. A top-notch perimeter sniper, Armand has knocked down 108 triples
this season, connecting on 41.2 percent of his tries. Adding some power in the
paint is David Laury who is averaging a double-double with 13.1 points and
10.4 rebounds per contest.
It is clear who the top scoring threat for the Buckeyes is this season, as
only one player is averaging in double figures. Deshaun Thomas, an easy choice
for the All-Big Ten First Team, accounts for 19.5 ppg, which is a considerable
portion of the unit's 69.2 ppg on the campaign. Thomas, who is playing in
excess of 35 minutes per game, has shown the ability to knock down the
perimeter shot (64-of-190), but might be even more of an asset in the paint
where he has averaged 6.2 rpg to pace the program. Aaron Craft, an all-
conference performer in his own right, doesn't have quite the same touch from
the outside (.296) as Thomas, but still it is critical that Craft be on the
floor as much as possible, his 9.9 ppg ranking second on the team, but his 152
assists and 66 steals both topping the charts for Ohio State. Although his own
offense is not much of a factor, Shannon Scott (4.8 ppg) is also a key piece
of the puzzle with 127 dishes and 62 thefts, a major reason why the OSU
defense has held the competition to only 57.9 ppg.
The Sports Network