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Iowa Basketball: Iowa vs Ohio State Preview

Previewing the matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State (13-8, 3-5) at Iowa (11-10, 3-5)

Date & Time: January 28th, 7:05 p.m. CT

Location: Carver Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)

TV: ESPN2

Quick Notes

- Saturday has been dubbed a "blackout". Fans are encourage to wear black clothing to the game.

- Iowa and Ohio State are in a six way tie for eighth place in the Big Ten.

- All-time series is tied at 78 apiece. Last six meetings have been decided by 10 points or less.

- Ohio State sits at 62nd in the RPI rankings, while the Hawkeyes sit at 111th. 

- Fran McCaffery is 36-22 at Iowa in Big Ten home games, including 3-1 this season. 

- Ohio State is 2-5 in road games this season, including 1-3 in the Big Ten. 

- The Buckeyes are 3-1 in their last four games after an 0-4 start to Big Ten play.

- The Hawkeyes enter as losers of their last three games. 

- Balance has been the name of the game for OSU. They have five players (all starters) that average double figures.

- Buckeyes are thin compared to the Hawkeyes. They only got around 7 or 8 deep since losing Keita Bates-Diop. 

- Trevor Thompson has been a monster in the last five games. He's averaging 12 points and 13 rebounds in that stretch. 

Iowa Starters

Jordan Bohannon (FR): Bohannon fought the flu bug on Wednesday against the Illinois Fighting Illini and clearly was not the same player. He finished playing just 21 minutes and going 1-9 from the field. He connected on just one three point attempt of his seven, but was able to dish out 4 assists and collected 3 offensive rebounds. The Hawkeyes need Bohannon healthy because he's been a great floor general for this young team.

Isaiah Moss (RSFR): I described Moss as MIA on Wednesday. He played just 6 minutes and the only stat he recorded was one turnover. I'm not sure of the reason why Moss disappeared, but his minutes have been dwindling over the past few weeks. Don't be surprised if we see Moss in a bench role tonight.

Peter Jok (SR): That back is clearly bothering him more than he is leading on. He looked like he was a step behind others on Wednesday, but Fran McCaffery did play him 32 minutes in a game that was over around 12 minutes in. Jok had 10 points, but also had 4 turnovers and when he isn't playing well, neither is Iowa. Jok needs to get healthy fast, but backs can be tricky.

Tyler Cook (FR): I thought Cook made some silly plays on Wednesday night. He had 5 points in 17 minutes, but like Jok, had four turnovers on top of that. He's been getting into trouble when he puts the ball on the floor. The Hawkeyes need Cook on the block where he can take advantage of his strength and athleticism. It wouldn't hurt setting a play up for a look at the rim like they used to do for Aaron White just a few seasons ago. 

Cordell Pemsl (FR): Pemsl is another guy that has been struggling lately. He had 6 points and 4 boards in 11 minutes, but also picked up three fouls in that time frame. He's been up and down recently and I can see him making a move to the bench as well. Pemsl still gives this team a lot on offense and in terms of toughness, but sometimes all a guy needs is a change of scenery. 

Iowa Bench Pieces

Nicholas Baer (RSSO): Probably the most consistent Hawkeye to date, Baer has earned the right to be a starter again. He's an energy guy and that is something Iowa has lacked from the get go in the last couple of weeks. If anything, it can't hurt to mix it up and see what you get from another set of guys on a team that is still very young. Baer had 12 points and 7 boards in 30 minutes on Wednesday night.

Ahmad Wagner (SO): Wagner is another guy that I believe should be thrust back into that starting lineup. He's not much of a basketball player in the typical sense, but he works his butt off on both ends of the floor. He's another one that could help with the slow start issue. Wagner had 12 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes on Wednesday.

Christian Williams (SO): Williams has been up and down the last few games, but I thought he was solid against Illinois. He had 7 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes on Wednesday as he took on more of a role with Bohannon being ill. It's about consistency right now for Williams. He put together a couple solid games, but then had two quick turnovers against Maryland and was yanked. With Bohannon being under the weather, the Hawkeyes will need solid play from Williams on Saturday.

Ryan Kriener (FR): Kriener has added a nice bench piece to this team the past few weeks. He played 11 minutes and had 4 points, but did pick up three fouls during those 11 minutes on the court. He has been picking up fouls at a rather quick pace recently, so that is something he needs to work on. Otherwise, he helps the Hawkeyes a lot on both sides.

Dom Uhl (JR): After not playing in the two games prior, Uhl saw 21 minutes against Illinois. He had 3 points and 4 rebounds and I thought he was solid. It was surprising seeing him garner that many minutes in his first game back. Even before the injury the most minutes he'd seen in the 12 games prior was 23 against Rutgers when he was outstanding.

Brady Ellingson (RSSO): Just 8 minutes for Brady against Illinois, but he did have a couple of assists. He's always a threat to knock down an outside shot, but it's just about how much floor time he sees.

Ohio State Starters

JaQuan Lyle (SO): Lyle is probably the biggest point guard in the league at 6'5" and 210 pounds. He ranks in the top five in the Big Ten in assists per game and ranks in the top 10 in minutes played per game at 31.8. He makes them go and when he's on he can knock big three point shots down. He is coming off 11 points and 4 assists against Minnesota, but he did also have 5 turnovers in that one as well. He's scored in double figures in his last 6 contests. 

Kam Williams (JR): Williams is a smaller guard, but can be affective getting into the lane. He shoots 92% from the free throw line so the Hawkeyes will need to keep him off the charity stripe. He's another high minute guy that shoots it at a solid clip from three. He makes 38% of his long balls. Considering the Buckeyes don't go very deep, Williams and Lyle are about the only two guards to really worry about. 

Marc Loving (SR): Loving has been a guy that I've always thought has a bunch of talent. He just hasn't been as consistent as some would like. He averaged 14 per game in his junior campaign and is averaging 11.5 during his senior season. He has the ability to go off on any night, but he also will have games where he puts up a dud. Iowa needs a dud from Loving, who is top 5 in the Big Ten in minutes played per game.

Jae'Sean Tate (JR): There really isn't another word for Tate other than beast when it comes to describing him. He isn't the biggest guy at 6'4", but he uses his body so well and is extremely physical on the block. He's shooting just 19% from beyond the arc, so he isn't a threat to hurt you out there, but he's also shooting 54% from the field, which means he's been extremely efficient at finishing inside. One of Iowa's forwards will have a height advantage, but will they be able to keep up with Tate's, who leads the team averaging 14 points per game, physicality. 

Trevor Thompson (JR): Thompson is the big guy to watch for me tonight. He's played extremely well the past couple of weeks as he's recorded double double's in his last two games. He's been efficient at the free throw line and from the field during the season as well. At 7' and 250 pounds he gives the Buckeyes a solid rim protector, but he has to stay out of foul trouble. He can significantly impact a game for Ohio State, but he can't if he's on the bench in foul trouble. Thompson averages 11 points and 9 boards this season.

Things to Watch

Slow Start

I know, I know. I sound like a broken record. But until the Hawkeyes kick this habit of starting slow this is always going to be something to watch. They fell down 10-0 against Illinois on Wednesday and the game was pretty much over 10 minutes in because they had dug themselves so deep. They did a good job battling in the second half, but you can only pat yourself on the back for so long before you get sick of the same old narrative. Fran McCaffery hinted at the fact that he might be switching up his starting lineup before Wednesday night, but he did not. I could definitely see it happening tonight. Look for some energy guys to be thrown into the starting lineup to attempt to find a solution to the slow start problem.

Keep Forwards Out of Foul Trouble

Ohio State's big men are extremely physical. Both Trevor Thompson and Jae'Sean Tate are beasts down low. The Hawkeyes might need all their talented forwards tonight. The Iowa defense has been allowing opposing guards to get into the lane at will. If that happens tonight it allows them to dish it off to their big men. Iowa's big guys have got to keep themselves out of foul trouble because I think the Buckeyes will make a concerted effort to get the ball down low. Thompson is going to hold a height advantage over every single Hawkeye forward, so they'll need to make more of an effort to deny, deny, deny. Don't let him touch the ball and make sure there is always someone boxing him out. 

Injuries

Fran McCaffery told the Des Moines Register's Chad Leistikow that sitting Peter Jok for a few games is a legitimate consideration at this point. And he's right. Jok hasn't looked right and I don't think he will look right until he gets a chance to rest for a few weeks. That clearly isn't going to happen without him sitting out a few games. Right now, the Iowa schedule is a bit easier on paper than it will be late in the year. If there were ever a time to sit out your talented scorer, I think the time is now. You'll get a small look at what your team will look like next year and it'll force some kids to grow up because there will be 10-15 shots on the table that someone is going to have to take on. The other thing to look at is Jordan Bohannon's health. He was sick on Wednesday, so what Iowa gets out of him tonight will be something to keep an eye on.

Prediction

The Hawkeyes have been playing very well at home this season, but mix in the injuries and the issues out of the gate and I don't know if this is a game they win. The Buckeyes are also playing very well this season. They don't go very deep, but they start four upperclassmen, so they're used to the Big Ten grind by now. It's really hard to predict what the Hawkeyes will do, but if we're looking at recent history, the Hawkeyes are going to fall behind early and will be forced to claw their way back in.

Ohio State 79 Iowa 75


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