The Ohio State Buckeyes weren’t about to be the second 2 seed to fall on Friday night. Deshaun Thomas and the Buckeyes made quick work of the 15th-seeded Iona Gaels, 95-70, in a 2nd round matchup at the University of Dayton Arena.
The Buckeyes raced out to a quick start, jumping out to a 27-8 lead in what amounted to basically a home game, taking place just over an hour away from Columbus. But the Gaels stuck around. A 12-3 run, featuring a pair of threes by Sean Armand and Momo Jones, made it 30-20 with 5:39 left. Even after the Buckeyes stretched it back to 11 (37-26) with 3:09 left, the Gaels whittled it down to 37-33 after a 7-0 run, but Ohio State got it back to double digits at the break by scoring the next six points, four of them by Sam Thompson.
Looking squash any hopes of a upset, the Buckeyes opened things up with a 9-0 run to take a 52-33 lead with 18:03 to go, led by six points by Thompson and a three by Thomas. Iona, though, wouldn’t go away, responding with the next seven points (including Armand’s third three of the game) to cut the lead to 52-40 with 17:13 left.
That was as close as they got the rest of the way.
A 28-13 OSU run over the next nine-plus minutes made it a 80-53 Buckeyes lead, and it would be enough to hold off a determined Iona squad. The Gaels would make only four field goals over the final 9:09 as they couldn’t find a way to make the shots they needed to keep it close, while turning it over 19 times against a superior Buckeye team looking to make its second straight Final Four.
Around the same time, the 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast Eagles were in the midst of pulling off the tournament’s most shocking upset to date over the 2nd-seeded Georgetown Hoyas–but lighting wouldn’t strike twice, at least for now.
Thomas and Thompson each reached double figures; Thomas finished with 24 (8-12 from the floor, a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc) while Thompson scored 230 in just 27 minutes (6-10 FG) while recording a double-double with 10 rebounds.
For Iona, Tavon Sledge led the way with 20; Armand had 17 (4-12 from three) and David Laury chipped in 14. Meanwhile, Jones, the 3rd leading scorer in the country, was held to just 9 points on 3-14 shooting as the senior was never able to get it going on this night.
Up next for the Buckeyes: the (7) Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the (10) Iowa State Cyclones on Sunday, with Ohio State seeking its fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16.