Ohio State’s Adam Craft, Deshaun Thomas pose problems


ISU redshirt senior Korie Lucious drives the ball down low against Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA tournament on March 22, 2013, at the University of Dayton Arena.  Lucious had three assists in the 76-58 win over Notre Dame.

Dean Berhow-Goll

DAYTON, Ohio — Matching up against the best defensive point guard in the country in a virtual road game could be seen as a point guard’s nightmare.

So why isn’t Korie Lucious worried?

“I’m not taking anything away from him, but I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m worried about anything or nothing like that because I’m just going to try and play my game,” Lucious said.

Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft is known for his defensive ability, shading guards into traps and causing relentless pressure, leading the Big Ten in steals a year ago and is second now.

Even against guard-heavy Iona in the second round of the NCAA tournament, where Craft played sparingly in the second half as a result of a big lead, he mustered seven assists and had a season-high six steals.

“I love the kid,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “I think he does such a good job of getting that team from a defensive standpoint he sets the tone each and every night. I think every coach in America would tell you they’d like to have a kid like that on their team.”

Craft is at the top of Ohio State’s defense, extending pressure out to half court if not full, but the entire Buckeye team has length and athleticism, allowing only 57.9 points per game, a mark that would’ve been easily first in the Big 12.

Stopping Thomas

All-Big 12 defender Chris Babb has guarded players of different sizes before.

He’s been instructed to guard some of the Big 12’s best, from the Big 12’s leading scorer in the 5-foot-10 Pierre Jackson, to the likes of All-Big 12 forward Rodney McGruder.

Accolades aside, Babb may face his biggest challenge in Ohio State’s First Team All-Big Ten forward, Deshaun Thomas.

Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound lefty used his Swiss army knife offensive ability to lead the Big Ten in scoring with 19.6 points per game, while adding more than six rebounds per game.

“It’s going to be a complete team effort,” said ISU freshman Georges Niang. “It seems like he can score from anywhere on the floor. He can shoot the ball, he can score inside and he’s really physical on the boards, so it’s going to take a full team effort on the boards and playing good defense to stop him.”