With two seconds left and the game tied, Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross drained a three-point jumper, putting a stake through the hearts of the Arizona Wildcats and powering No. 2 Ohio State to the Elite Eight, where they will face the winner of the Wichita State-La Salle game on Saturday.
Trailing 70-67, Arizona’s Nick Johnson found Mark Lyons on the fast break and Lyons made a layup and was fouled by Ross. Lyons made the free throw to tie the game, which set up Ross’s dramatics.
This was the second straight game where Ohio State was tied with seconds remaining and emerged victorious with a game-winning three. On Sunday, Aaron Craft sent Iowa State home with another cold-blooded three-point jumper in the game’s final seconds.
Ross finished with 17 points and DeShaun Thomas had 20 for Ohio State. Lyons had 23 for Arizona and Solomon Hill had 16 points.
Arizona could have put the game on ice in the first half and the game would have never come down to the final seconds. They had Ohio State wounded, but sloppily could not put them away.
The game featured Arizona’s freewheeling style of play against Ohio State’s disciplined system and featured two coaches with Xavier ties–Ohio State’s Thad Matta and Arizona’s Sean Miller–who know each other–and their styles of play–well. They are great friends–Miller was Matta’s assistant coach at Xavier and eventually became Xavier’s head coach when Matta took the Ohio State job.
Arizona led 33-22 when Craft came back into the game in the first half with two fouls. In the next six minutes, Ohio State cut Arizona’s 11-point lead down to four, and the Buckeyes went into halftime with momentum, trailing Arizona 38-34.
Ohio State came out of the gates in the second half on a six-point run to take a two-point lead, 40-38.
At the 11:31 mark, Ohio State had a 50-42 lead, and the Buckeyes had gone on a 28-9 run with Craft back on the floor. Mark Lyons then made a free throw, scoring his first point in nearly 20 minutes.
Craft left with three fouls, and Thomas drained a three to put Ohio State up by ten.
Arizona quickly mounted a comeback. Solomon Hill made a jumper in the key. The Los Angeles native then made a thunderous dunk, got fouled, made the free throw and brought Arizona within five points by scoring five consecutive points. He would go on to score nine consecutive points to keep Arizona in the game while they struggled offensively. But Ohio State’s Ross had a nine-point run as well that prevented Arizona from going on a run that would have electrified the Los Angeles crowd that was rooting for Arizona.
The Wildcats were careless with the ball, took ill-advised three pointers, could not grab offensive or defensive rebounds and lost a huge opportunity to go into halftime leading by double digits. They would regret it.
DeShaun Thomas, with 16 points in the first, kept Ohio State in the game and their season alive.