Rushed Reactions: #2 Ohio State 95, #15 Iona 70Posted by IRenko on March 22nd, 2013
I. Renko is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Ohio State and #15 Iona. You can follow him on Twitter at @IRenkoHoops.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Ohio State Won at Iona’s Pace — Ohio State ordinarily plays at a fairly slow pace, while the Gaels like to race up and down the court, using their quickness to hide their lack of size inside. Iona managed to get the kind of uptempo game with which they’re typically comfortable, as each team had a whopping 78 possessions and combined for 136 field goal attempts and 46 free throw attempts. But Ohio State seemed to benefit from the breakneck pace more. They consistently broke Iona’s pressure, and seemed inspired by the Gaels’ quick pace to rev up their own. Relying on steady ball control and their athleticism advantage, the Buckeyes outscored the Gaels 34-11 on fast break points and 29-9 on points off turnovers.
- Sam Thompson Can Put on a Show — One consequence of the Buckeyes’ getting to play an up-tempo game is that bouncy wing Sam Thompson had a chance to show off his incredible athletic gifts. Thompson delighted the pro-OSU crowd with a series of high-flying dunks, none more spectacular than an incredible one-handed, full extension, alley oop that he threw down with 1:23 to play in the first half. Not only was it a highlight reel feature, but it snapped a 7-0 Iona run that cut OSU’s lead to four, and sparked the Buckeyes’ own 15-0 run.
- Momo Jones Says a Quiet Goodbye — Iona’s talented point guard played his first two season at Arizona before transferring to Iona to be closer to his family, and his grandmother in particular. It seemed to take him some time to adjust, but he managed a stellar second act, playing an instrumental role in the Gaels’ Tournament trip last year and leading them back this year. But he went out with a bit of a whimper. The scoring just nine points on 3-of-14 shooting (1-of-8 from three-point range).
Star of the Game: While many feel that Deshaun Thomas’ season has been somewhat disappointing, he’s scored in double-figures in every game, and saw no need to interrupt that streak tonight. Thomas poured in 24 points on an efficient 8-of-12 from the field. He showed his complete offensive game, hitting jumpers (a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point range) and taking advantage of Iona’s size disadvantage down low to score in the paint.
Quotable: “It’d be a little easier if Sam could jump a little higher.” — comedian Aaron Craft, when asked how easy it is to throw alley-oops to Thompson
Sights & Sounds: Ohio State fans gave an exceptionally classy ovation to the Iona Gaels as they walked off the court. Despite rooting hard for their team and getting all over the refs until the very last second of a 25-point win, they demonstrated some impressive sportsmanship. It’s never easy for a big underdog to go into a hostile environment and battle a double-digit lead for 40 minutes, and the Buckeye faithful should be commended for appreciating that.
Wildcard: If Thomas is Ohio State’s most consistent scorer, then Craft is its least predictable. He’s had games this year where he’s scored 0 points and games where he’s scored more than 20, plus everything in between. In recent weeks, Craft took on a key scoring role in wins over Michigan State and Indiana, but tonight he just scored just two points on 2-of-8 FG shooting. Of course, that’s nothing to worry about for Buckeyes fans. Craft steps up when OSU needs him to, and when it doesn’t, he’s content to let his teammates handle the scoring load. Despite his low point total tonight, he dished out seven assists.
What’s Next? Ohio State will return to Dayton Arena on Sunday to take on the winner of the nightcap, Notre Dame vs. Iowa State. The Buckeyes will be looking for their 4th straight Sweet Sixteen appearance.