D’Angelo Russell scored 28 points and Shannon Scott finished with nine points and 10 assists as No. 10 Ohio State came from behind to knock off No. 7 VCU in overtime, 75-72. The Buckeyes advance to take on No. 2 Arizona on Saturday.
VCU jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the first half, but Russell and Scott helped carry the Buckeyes back. They got within one at the half and took control for a stretch in the middle of the second half. The game ended in thrilling fashion. Melvin Johnson hit back-to-back threes for VCU, who took a 66-64 lead. Ohio State answered with a bucket of their own before the two teams missed three straight shots down the stretch.
While Russell and Scott were the stars, the guys that made the biggest shots for the Buckeyes down the stretch were Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop. Bates-Diop hit two massive threes — one to give Ohio State a 62-60 lead in regulation, one to give them a 71-68 lead in overtime — while Tate made of number of important hustle plays, finishing with 12 points and eight boards before fouling out.
Ohio State will have their work cut out for them against the Wildcats. The Buckeyes are a very good defensive team around the perimeter, but they don’t have much size or depth along their front line. At times on Thursday night, they used Tate (6-foot-5) and Thompson (a 6-foot-7 wing) as their four and five. A lot of that was due to the matchup, I know, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are going to be at a major size disadvantage.
What will be intriguing, however, is the matchup between Russell and either Stanley Johnson or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson is arguably the best perimeter defender in the country, and it would be a treat for us — and for NBA scouts — to see Russell got head-to-head with him.
Because, if you haven’t noticed, Russell is pretty good: