Iona has waited a year to get the sour taste of a 25-point choke against BYU out of its mouth.
It was in the play-in round last year, as a No. 14 seed, that the Gaels ran out to a seemingly insurmountable lead. Only it wasn't, of course. BYU staged the largest comeback in NCAA tournament history in the second half. They knocked off the Gaels, 78-72, and sent the team back to New Rochelle, N.Y. without even having a shot at playing in the Big Dance, so to speak.
"[We] just use it as motivation," head coach Tim Cluess told reporters after the brackets were revealed last Sunday. "Make them understand that every possession matters — not just on the offensive end, but on the defensive end."
Lamont Jones played Robin to Scott Machado's Batman on last year's team, but he's back this season, now the MAAC Player of the Year one year after Machado took the crown. Jones was 3-of-14 from the field — 0-of-6 from behind the arc — and scored just six points in that loss to BYU. He doesn't need to be reminded.
"I think we got so comfortable [with the 25-point lead]," Jones told reporters Sunday. "We let our foot off the pedal."
Jones is averaging 23 points per game this year - tops in the conference. He scored 33 points in the MAAC tournament opener, the sixth time this season he's had at least 30 points in a game. His 40 points against Quinnipiac earlier this season is the fourth-highest in school history.
But he will have the toughest test of his season against No. 2 seed Ohio State (Friday, 7:15 p.m., CBS). Aaron Craft, 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, will be locked up with him for the whole game.
After all, no one said it would be easy to get that bad taste of Iona's mouth.