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Ohio State Buckeyes: Caitlin Clark show coming to Columbus on Sunday

Jan. 19—A piece of first place in Big Ten women's basketball is on the line Sunday when Ohio State plays host to Iowa.

That is probably not why an unusually large crowd is expected to be on hand, though.

The Caitlin Clark Show comes to Ohio for the second season in a row, and here are five things to know about a contest that will tip off at noon and be telecast nationally by NBC:

1. Iowa is 18-1 and ranked No. 2 in the country.

The Hawkeyes are aiming for another trip to the Final Four after losing the national championship game to LSU last season.

Iowa leads the Big Ten in scoring, rebounding, rebounding margin, scoring margin, assist and 3-point field goals while topping the league standings at 7-0.

Clark's 31.0 points per game lead the nation, and she averages 7.7 assists and 7.2 rebounds.

Hannah Stuelke (13.2 ppg.) and Kate Martin (12.3 ppg.) give long-time coach Lisa Bluder three double-figure scorers.

"You're not gonna shut her down," Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said of Clark. "She's gonna get points, and she's just too hard to stop. I think we've got to make her own everything that she gets. And we've got to be ready to guard everybody else around her. I think that's where they're so dangerous is she gets 30, but Gabby Marshall gets 20, Martin gets 18, Stuelke gets 14 and that's when they become really difficult to beat."

With 3,306 career points, Clark is fourth in NCAA history. The reigning National Player of the Year could break Ohio State great Kelsey Mitchell's Big Ten scoring record (3,402), by the end of the month, and the national record of 3,527 by Washington's Kelsey Plum is well within reach.

2. Ohio State is 14-3 and ranked No. 18.

The Buckeyes are 5-1 after a big 84-76 win at perennial power Maryland on Wednesday night.

That ran their winning streak to four games and gave McGuff reason to believe his team is on the upswing.

"I think we've gotten a little bit better lately," said McGuff, a Hamilton native and Badin High School graduate. "So I think we're making progress. I still think we're a ways away from being who we're capable of being, so really just continuing to get better and stay focused to make sure that we're getting better and peaking at the right time of the year."

Jacy Sheldon leads Ohio State in scoring at 17.2 points per game while Taylor Thierry is adding 13.2, and Cotie McMahon averages 12.8.

3. Clark is the main attraction not just Sunday but every time the Hawkeyes take the court this season.

A 6-foot senior guard from West Des Moines, Clark is the nation's leading scorer and plays with a flair and swagger that brings fans out in droves wherever she goes.

Ohio State typically does not sell ticket in the upper level at 19,0,49-seat Value City Arena for women's basketball games, but the university is doing so Sunday after selling out the lower bowl for the second year in a row against the Hawkeyes.

"It's a great opportunity," McGuff said. "We're going to have an incredible crowd. It's on NBC, and I think it's a great event for women's basketball, and certainly this community who really supports women's sports."

4. Buckeyes looking for payback?

Ohio State knows first-hand how good Clark is after she posted a triple-double at Value City Arena last season as the Hawkeyes handed the Buckeyes their first loss 83-72 after a 19-0 start.

Clark had 28 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in that game then tallied 30 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds as Iowa trounced the Buckeyes 105-72 in the final of the Big Ten Tournament.

Ohio State still leads the all-time series between the Big Ten's winningest programs 38-37, and the buildup for this one is such that the upper deck will be open.

5. McMahon on the upswing?

A freshman sensation for Ohio State last season, the Centerville High School graduate's scoring average and shooting percentage are down slightly so far this year.

She is still averaging 12.8 points per game while shooting 44.6 percent from the floor, but the 6-foot guard endured four straight games in which she did not reach double figures in the second half of December.

After scoring 14 points against the Terrapins, she has four straight double-figure scoring games, and McGuff hopes the powerful perimeter player has turned the corner.

"You know, she's practiced really well since coming out of Christmas break, so I think she's kind of trending back to kind of who she is as player," McGuff said. "And I think she'll continue that."