Breakdown of Ohio State

Iowa State may face it's biggest challenge yet on Saturday as they will take on Ohio State. Brent Blum breaks down what Ohio State will bring into Des Moines on Saturday.




Ohio State (5-0) is the best team Iowa State (6-2) will play in the non-conference. Yes, football is the first thing people think about with the Buckeyes, but the basketball team is on its way to becoming nationally significant again. It's already been six years since Ohio State played in the Final Four led by Michael Redd and Scoonie Penn. Since that time, the Buckeyes have had to endure a scandal involving the payment of former recruit Aleksandar Radojevic, which led to the firing of their coach. Then Coach Jim O'Brien admitted to giving Radojevic $6,000. This resulted in a self-imposed ban from the post-season last year. Well, things are back on the way up in Columbus. Two-year, and former Xavier, head coach Thad Matta started turning heads last year. The Buckeyes would have been a NCAA bubble team last year if it wasn't for the ban. The Buckeyes finished 20-12 last year, including wins over then undefeated Illinois, Iowa and Texas Tech.


This year the Buckeyes return five of their six top scorers off that 20 win squad and also add several explosive talents into the mix. The Buckeyes are led by All-conference center Terence Dials. Dials was second team Big 10 last season as a junior after averaging 16 points and 8 boards a game. This season he is averaging just under 13 and 7. At 6'9" 260 he is by far the biggest and most ferocious post-player ISU's young interior guys have faced all season. The Cyclones did a admirable job of doubling down on Iowa's Greg Brunner and Erek Hansen, but may have a more difficult time doing the same to Dials, as he has a supporting cast that makes "King Kong" pale in comparison.


Ohio State has had four different players lead them in scoring in their five games. 6'2 senior guard Je'Kel Foster leads them in scoring at 15.5 per game. Foster was a first-team Junior College All-American two years ago and averaged 8 points a game last season for Ohio State. He is shooting 58 percent from behind the arc (14-24).


6'4" senior guard J.J. Sullinger (a transfer from Arkansas in 2003) is averaging 11 points and leads the Buckeyes in rebounding at over 9 per game. Sullinger is a left-handed Curtis Stinson, in that he is comfortable taking it to the rim, but also competent from deep. They also return sophomore guard Jamar Butler, a 6'1" guard averaging 10.5 points and shooting 50 percent from 3.


Ohio State has two transfers that have contributed immediately. 6'4" guard Ron Lewis sat out last year after transferring from Bowling Green. At BG, Lewis averaged 17 points as a sophomore. This year he is second on the Buckeyes with 13 points and second in shots with 37, despite coming off the bench. He also loves to attack the basket and get to the foul line, averaging 6 free throw attempts per game. The other transfer, Sylvester Mayes, averaged 19 points at Redlands Community College last year. He is lightning quick and leads the Bucks with 16 assists. He also adds just over 8 points a game, shooting 57 percent from downtown.


Iowa State and Ohio State are similar in that they aren't real big inside, but have plenty of race-horses and scoring guards. ISU has struggled early this season with teams that have a multitude of scoring options, something Ohio State has plenty of. Look for Iowa State to pressure the Buckeyes with its trapping press and zone. Ohio State is turning the ball over more than 15 times per game and hasn't seen the athletes Iowa State brings to the floor. The Cyclones will have to get points off transition and from the outside, because Dials has the Kelvin Cato like ability to single-handedly control the inside. Nobody on the Cyclones can stop Dials by themselves. Look for the Buckeyes to go to Dials right away and establish him inside, forcing double-teams and leaving their shooters open for looks, where they are shooting a remarkable 45 percent as a team from distance (they hit 14 treys Monday night against Norfolk St.)  


The key like most Cyclone games is tempo. If they can make the Buckeyes run with them and create havoc on both ends of the floor, they will be successful. Ohio State will slow it down, much like UNI and Iowa attempted to do. The Bucks don't force many turnovers or press, but instead play solid team defense in the half-court. Another potential game-breaker is free-throw shooting. Iowa State has attempted 50 less free throws than their opponents; meanwhile, Ohio State has attempted 60 more than their opponents. By the end of the year, Ohio State will be a team nobody wants to play, and a win by the ‘Clones Saturday will look sweet come March. But, it will take Iowa State's best effort of the season.


Now is the time to catch the Buckeyes, because next year they bring in the nation's #1 recruit and so-called "best big-man since Shaq" in Greg Oden and two other studs ranked in the top 10. Reports were LeBron James would have committed to OSU if he hadn't entered the draft. LeBron's lucky because Rahshon Clark would have showed him up.                 




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