DAYTON, Ohio - The most intriguing matchup of Friday's game between Ohio State and Iona will be how one of the nation's leading scorers in Lamont Jones will fare against one of the nation's top on-ball defenders in Aaron Craft.
Jones is the 3rd leading scorer in the nation with 23 points per game. The most prolific scorer (in a statistical sense) that the Buckeyes have faced this season is Deshaun Thomas in practice, he checks in at No. 21 in the nation with 19.5 ppg (Trey Burke out of Michigan is the highest ranked opponent at No. 24 with 19.2 ppg).
But the battle between Craft and Momo Jones is good for selling papers and turning on television but everyone associated knows that it won't be strictly a one-on-one matchup between the two outstanding players.
"I just think that we've got to play our game," Jones said. "Just come out and play Iona basketball. We come out and play the way that we know how to play, knock down shots, play together, play with poise, play with confidence, I think we'll be okay."
It will be a battle of contrasting styles, Iona's 80.7 ppg. is more than 10 points a game higher than what Ohio State averages putting up but on the flipside the Gaels likely have not faced a defense like Ohio State's throughout the season, in league play or non-conference.
"We've watched film on them," Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas said. "They've got great scorers. So much of what we need to do is just run our offense with pace and hit the open shots and hit the open man and just play hard and play with a lot of effort."
Ohio State's top defender agrees.
"Obviously, you hear about Lamont Jones and how he's able to put the ball in the basket," Craft added. "What you don't hear as much before you do a lot of scouting is they have a bunch of guys who can put the ball in the hoop, it's not just one guy."
Sean Armand is averaging 16.6 points per game while David Laury has 13.1 per game. By comparison's sake, Craft is the only other Buckeye to average in double figures and that was after averaging 12 points down the stretch in the Big Ten Tournament.
So enjoy the matchup between Craft and Jones, but know that it won't be Craft's lone assignment to lock down Jones with defenders like Shannon Scott and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. also checking in as skilled defenders. The Buckeyes can't afford to lose focus of the multi-faceted attack of the Gaels.