Buckeyes Looking Forward, Not Back
By Rob Ogden
The Buckeyes aren't dwelling on Tuesday night's loss at Michigan State. They don't have time to.
Sunday, Ohio State, fresh off its first defeat of the year, will face No. 20 Iowa in Columbus. And if the Buckeyes aren't careful, a hungry group of Hawkeyes could deliver loss No. 2.
"There's two ways we can go," senior point guard Aaron Craft said Friday. "We're a competitive group and obviously we want to win every game but the worst thing we can do is let that loss turn into two."
The Buckeyes trailed by 17 points with little more than seven minutes remaining in East Lansing, but battled back to force overtime before ultimately falling to the No. 5 Spartans.
It was the type of physical game coach Thad Matta has come to expect in his 10 years in the Big Ten. Iowa shouldn't be any different.
"As I've always said, in this league, you get knocked down, you gotta get up, you gotta get ready to fight again," Matta said.
Sunday's fight will be against the top scoring team in the Big Ten. Iowa averages 86.5 points per game. Its three losses this season have come by a combined 12 points to No. 8 Villanova, No. 9 Iowa State and No. 4 Wisconsin.
It's shaping up to be a tight race in the Big Ten, and the Hawkeyes are on the shortlist of legitimate contenders for the league. Taking care of home court will be a big part of staying in the race. The Buckeyes haven't lost at home since Feb. 10, 2013, a 81-68 loss to Indiana.
In that game, Ohio State was coming off an overtime loss at Michigan five days earlier.
Five days after the overtime loss in East Lansing, the Buckeyes intend to make sure that same scenario doesn't unfold again. That won't be an easy task, though, Matta said.
"Things don't get solved just because you're in your own building, you've got to man up and go out and play again," Matta said.
Craft knows it, too. It's only early January, but a hint of urgency could be sensed in his voice.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to find ways to get better," Craft said. "Complacency is our biggest enemy at this moment."
Tuesday's loss could have been counted as a moral victory, but those don't count in the standings.
"We can feel good about coming back and think everything's gonna be alright, but that's not the case," Craft said.
Each game posses drastically different problems. That one's behind us.One of the hardest parts is you want the players to let go but still learn from it.
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