Iona’s Lamont “MoMo” Jones dismissed Aaron Craft and Ohio State before Friday’s West Regional battle, and No. 2 Ohio State made him pay for his words by thrashing No. 15 Iona 95-70 in Dayton, Ohio.
Craft, arguably the best on-the-ball defender in the nation, frustrated Iona, getting three consecutive steals in the first half, and frustrated Jones and disrupted Iona throughout the first half. Jones was held to just 9 points on 3 of 15 shooting.
With Ohio State leading by 20, Iona did make a run at the end of the first half, cutting the deficit to 4 before Ohio State scored the half’s last 6 points to lead by 10 at halftime.
The first four minutes of the second half would be key. Iona could have made it a game with a run, but Ohio State laid the hammer down, systematically taking apart and dismantling Iona on both ends of the floor and making them look like the inferior No. 15 seed that they were.
For Ohio State, DeShaun Thomas had 24 points, Sam Thompson had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Craft had 7 assists and 6 steals.
The West Region is now wide open for Ohio State to advance. With Harvard having knocked off No. 3 New Mexico and No. 1 Gonzaga having struggled mightily against No. 16 Southern, the Buckeyes seem to be on a collision course with Gonzaga for a trip to the final four.
Ohio State, the Big Ten tournament champions, will face the winner of Notre Dame and Iowa State.
If the Buckeyes get past that game, they will face the winner of the Arizona and Harvard in the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles next week.