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.