Another tournament game, another big, late shot from a Ohio State players takes them to the next stage, this time the Elite Eight. While Aaron Craft found life harder than usual against Arizona, Deshaun Thomas did his usual thing and simply played well and consistent throughout the game, setting the stage for LaQuinton Ross to be the hero with the big clutch shot.
The Buckeyes were down for most of the game and especially the first half, but thanks to some excellent defense later on in the game, they came through with a 73-70 win over the Wildcats, led by Thomas who scored 20 points, while Ross, enjoying his second consecutive 17-point game in the tournament while playing only 18 minutes, hit the tie-breaking three pointer with only 2 seconds left in the game.
The Ohio State defense couldn’t handle Mark Lyons, something no one could do. The Senior finished with 23 points on 6-12 from the field and 9-10 from the line, but couldn’t get a shot off in time to try and tie the game. While Arizona had its way in the first half, Ohio State stepped up its famous D in the second, limiting the Wildcats to 8-for-29 (27..6%) on shots that came after two or more passes, including 4-for-17 (23.5%) in the second half. After already being down by 11 in the first half, Ohio State used a 16-4 run in the first 8 minutes of the second half, also stopping Arizona from making a shot in the first five minutes of the second period, to take a 50-42 lead and stay on top for the rest of the game.
LaQuinton has really grown in a lot of areas. I think the biggest thing he’s done is he’s engaged himself in all the little things, and that’s made him a better basketball player. We’re proud of him.
For Ross, who took a page out of the Aaron Craft book (13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists), it was his first ever attempt at a game-tying or go-ahead shot in the final minute of a game. Only a Sophomore, these last couple of games from him might be a sign of things to come, with Wichita State waiting around the corner.