Two good friends will reunite this evening as Thad Matta’s Ohio State Buckeyes (11-3, 2-0) take on Todd Lickliter’s Iowa Hawkeyes (7-8, 0-2) at Value City Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Lickliter was an assistant during the one season Matta was head coach at Butler. After Matta took over for Skip Prosser at Xavier, Lickliter assumed the head coaching position at Butler.
Matta played at Butler when Lickliter was an assistant under former Bulldog coach Joe Sexson. Both Matta and Lickliter would eventually become assistant coaches under Barry Collier at Butler.
Lickliter, who spent six seasons as the head coach at Butler, posted a 131-61 (.682) record, and led the Bulldogs to four post-season tournament berths, including trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2003 and 2007.
Lickliter replaced former Iowa head coach Steve Alford, who resigned to coach at New Mexico.
The Hawkeyes will be without the services of freshman forward Jarryd Cole, who is sidelined for the remainder of the schedule after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while dunking during Iowa’s win over Southeastern Louisiana, Dec. 29.
Cole, who was one of three freshmen in the starting lineup, was averaging 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.
“We don’t have any choice but to go on but we’re going to miss Jarryd a lot,” Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said. “I thought he was making progress. He’s got a presence about him that’s very positive.
With Cole out, junior forward Cyrus Tate moves into the starting lineup. He is averaging 4.8 points and 3.1 rebounds.
“Cy and Jarryd are pretty similar in what they can do,” Lickliter said. “Both are capable of being physical. What Jarryd’s injury does is give you one less guy. Your rotations are shortened and people are playing extended minutes.”
Iowa’s leading scorer is 6-foot-6 senior guard Justin Johnson, who is averaging 15.5 points per game.
Second on the Hawkeyes in scoring is 6-foot-1 senior point guard Tony Freeman, who had missed 10 of Iowa’s first 11 games of the season with a fractured left foot. He is averaging 11.4 points per outing.
Rounding out the starting five is 7-foot senior center Seth Gorney (3.1 pgg), and 6-foot-6 freshman guard Jake Kelly (6.7 ppg).
Off the bench, 6-foot-10 senior forward Kurt Looby leads the Hawkeyes in rebounding (6.5 rpg).
Iowa has only played two ranked opponents and both were Big Ten foes as the Hawkeyes dropped a 79-76 to Indiana in Iowa City, and lost to Wisconsin, 64-51, in Madison.