Like Janelle the week before, tBBC was representing loud and proud as Ohio State’s basketball team moved onward through the West Regional to Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
Starting Wednesday of last week, I was fortunate to get an “up close” look at the team as they prepared for and worked to earn a right to head to Atlanta for the championships. And while the weekend didn’t end with the Buckeye’s cutting down the nets, it was a memorable one for many reasons.
The Arizona Wildcats gave the Buckeyes a rude welcome to the Sweet 16 to start, but the Buckeyes put together an excellent run to reclaim the lead and put the game away 73-70 on a last second LaQuinton Ross three pointer to advance to the Elite Eight. Despite the rough start, the game developed into a back and forth battle that Arizona very nearly reclaimed. DeShaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 20 points, and was joined in scoring by LaQuinton Ross (17), Aaron Craft (15), and Sam Thompson (11). Arizona was led by Mark Lyons’ 20 points, along with Solomon Hill’s 16.
Arizona controlled the first half for the balance on the strength of a stifling defensive effort. The work shutting down the OSU offense turned into easy points on the other end for the Cats, often on the fast break, but also against a surprising flat Buckeye defense. Of course, that wasn’t about to stop the Wildcats from building a double digit lead with their three point shooting, mostly while Aaron Craft sat on the bench with 2 fouls. But, Thad Matta wasn’t going to let it stay that way. With six minutes to go in the half, Matta risked putting Craft back into the game to try regain control of the momentum. The strategy worked brilliantly, allowing the Bucks to finish on a 12-6 run to close to within 4 points going into the locker room.
What didn’t help the effort for either team was the ludicrous pace of the game as dictated by the officials. I won’t say that the calls were necessarily wrong, but with both teams in the bonus with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half, there were certainly a lot of them. Only at the very end of the half did the officials seem to loosen up on the controls and allow the players to simply play the game.
The Buckeyes came out of the half ready to play basketball. OSU jumped out on a quick 8-0 run on the strength of their own tough defense to take their first lead since the opening possessions. They were able to continue to push that momentum to a solid 8 point lead while continuing to suppress Arizona’s scoring. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t to last. After building up a 10 point lead, the Buckeyes found themselves taking fire from Solomon Hill of Arizona, who sank 9 straight points and brought the game within four.
The Buckeyes have advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 4th time in as many years on the strength of an Aaron Craft dagger – which I’m sure everyone has seen by now. Next up are the 6th-seeded Wildcats of Arizona in sunny Los Angeles.
For more on Sean Miller’s team, check out Ken’s work from a couple days ago.
Join us and The Buckeye Blog, Buckeye Empire, Men of the Scarlet and Gray, and Buckeye Ninja as we cheer on the Buckeyes in tournament time! The chat will kick off around 7:30 PM Eastern, with tip off on TBS (note the “T”!) around 7:47 pm.
Special thanks to Fox Sports Ohio for graciously helping with these livechats all year long!
The Buckeyes have advanced to their fourth straight Sweet 16 and look to continue hitting their stride in the city of angels tomorrow night against Arizona. Spring football practice has reconvened. The Big Ten has 4 of the 16 teams still vying for the Final Four. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
The range of emotions regarding feelings toward Buckeye point guard Aaron Craft hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during Sunday’s 3rd round matchup with Iowa State. The nations best defender was on his game, went through a folly of errors, missed the front ends of two one-and-one free throw attempts, then made the games two biggest defensive plays, drove in for a layup and finally proceeded to drop a bomb to seal the deal.
School: University of Arizona
Location: Tucson, AZ
School Type: Public
Student Population: 39,236 total, 30,867 undergrad
Stadium: McKale Center
Head Coach: Sean Miller
Experience: 4th year
As the NCAA Tournament and the 2010-11 college basketball season wound down these past few days (and boy did it wind down last night), the annual movement of coaches among the college ranks started to pick up. Teams are scrambling to fill vacancies with the best talent on the market, and while some coaches have indicated an intent to stay put despite recent attention (see Shaka Smart), others seem to have entertained the possibility of moving elsewhere (see Matt Painter). Then there are those coaches who have already put pen to paper and signed on the dotted line, thus sealing their future (at least for the next few years) as the new head coach for a program.
One such coach is Archie Miller, who just signed on as the new head coach for the Dayton Flyers. The Flyers’ former coach, Brian Gregory, made the decision to leave for Georgia Tech, leaving Dayton with an opening to fill and Miller as an attractive candidate. Miller, who is coming to Dayton from the University of Arizona, where he served as an assistant under older brother Sean Miller, may be a familiar name to Ohio State followers from his days as an assistant under Thad Matta for the Buckeyes. Miller was in Columbus for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons before joining his brother at Arizona. Going one step further, the Miller family in general has some connection to Thad and Ohio State by means of the following: Read More
The West Region of the 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket presents Duke as the #1 seed, followed by San Diego State at the #2 and UConn at the #3. The West has as many as six teams that appeared in the top 10 of the AP ranking at some time during the season, a list that includes Tennessee, Texas, and Missouri in addition to the three noted above. No other bracket has a former top 10 team ranked as lowly as Missouri is ranked in the West, coming in at the #11 seed. This reflects the Tigers’ struggles late in the season, but also can be seen as a testament to the depth of good teams in the region.
Final Four Fav’s: Looking at the potential matchups in the bracket, it’s hard to pick against UConn as a good candidate to make it to the Final Four. Read More