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With 6:23 remaining in the first half Arizona led Ohio State 33-22 and looked to be well on its way to taking control of the Sweet 16 matchup at Staples Center. Outside of Deshaun Thomas the Buckeyes were struggling to score, and to that point in the game Thad Matta’s team was playing one of its worst halves of the season defensively.
But things changed. Ohio State improved defensively and LaQuinton Ross stepped up on the other end of the floor for the Buckeyes, and Arizona lost its poise during what would become a 22-5 Ohio State run.
Ross’ three-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining may have been the difference on the scoreboard, but it was that 22-5 stretch that put the Wildcats in position to have their hearts broken in the game’s final seconds.
A team that played much of the season with more depth than many of its opponents, Arizona lacked the answer needed to slow down both Ross and Thomas and the Wildcats had to go small as a result. But despite those issues Sean Miller’s squad managed to remain within striking distance with senior Solomon Hill leading the way.
Mark Lyons, who finished his one year as a Wildcat with a team-high 23 points, tied the game at 70 on a three-point play with 21.8 seconds remaining and it looked as if Arizona would dodge another bullet in a season that featured multiple comebacks. It would be Ross who had the final word however, and the end result is a crushing defeat for Arizona.
The final play was technically the game-winner for Ohio State, but the momentum shift that sparked the Buckeyes’ 22-5 run was just as important when evaluating why they won.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.