So far, Ohio State freshman center Greg Oden has been as good as advertised.
Oden looks to turn in another strong performance against an Iowa State squad that could again be without its center when the teams meet at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday.
Oden made his debut for No. 3 Ohio State (9-1) on Dec. 2 after missing the start of the season with a right wrist injury. The highly touted seven-footer has played in three games, scoring at least 14 points in each and recording two double-doubles.
Oden had 14 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in 27 minutes Saturday as the Buckeyes beat Cincinnati 72-50 in the most lopsided victory in the history of the Wooden Tradition. He dominated the inside despite playing with a heavy wrap on his surgically repaired wrist and not being completely up to speed after missing so much time.
“I’ve not been playing as much as these guys have,” he said. “They’ve been up and down all year, and I’m just getting started.”
Oden went 6-of-7 from the field against the Bearcats, ending a streak of 17 consecutive baskets that fell eight shy of the NCAA Division I record set by Ray Voelkel of American University in 1978.
“I think I was a little surprised how well he played today and then again I’m not because I cannot explain how much he’s done,” coach Thad Matta said. “He’s putting the time and the work in, and once he gets his right hand back, I think he’ll really continue to grow.”
Oden’s presence in the middle also forced Cincinnati to take more outside shots and was a significant factor in the Bearcats hitting just 26.0 percent of their shots.
“When he’s out there, they definitely don’t want to drive,” said guard Mike Conley Jr., who had eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists. “When he’s down low, he makes them think twice.”
Oden could have another chance to dominate against the Cyclones (7-4), who have played their last five games without center Ross Marsden. Marsden, who started Iowa State’s first six contests, has been fighting a case of mononucleosis and is day-to-day.
Tuesday’s game will also serve as a final tune-up for Oden before he goes up against No. 5 Florida and its formidable frontcourt on Saturday.
Iowa State opened the season with six straight wins, but has since dropped four of five, including Saturday’s 76-66 loss to Bradley. Freshman Wesley Johnson had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Mike Taylor, who leads the Cyclones with 15.0 points per game, added 13.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” guard Corey McIntosh said. “We made some runs and we just didn’t finish up strong. They ended up making counter runs after every timeout, which hurt us.”
Johnson was named Big 12 player of the week after also picking up 15 points and 11 rebounds in a 70-59 win over Savannah State on Wednesday.
Ohio State has won each of the previous four meetings between these teams, including a 70-67 victory on Dec. 17, 2005, in the most recent matchup.