College Basketball fans got a heavy dose of everything a great tournament game entails Sunday afternoon, as Aaron Craft hit a timely last second jumper from the wing to give Ohio State a 78-75 win over Iowa State.
It was everything that basketball fans were expecting. An Iowa State team that was dangerous from three point territory, solid on offensive rebounds and scoring in bunches. They were faced with solid defensive intensity, forced turnovers, and a willingness to take what the defense was giving up.
In the first half, there were 7 lead changes and 10 points where the game was tied. Iowa State out rebounded Ohio State 23-12. The Buckeyes forced 9 Cyclone turnovers.
And like every great tournament game, for everything expected — there was an equal surprise on the floor for each team.
Unfortunately the surprises for each team weren’t all positive.
Iowa State would play the whole second half without Chris Babb, their defensive stopper. Korie Lucious, despite having 19 Points on 5/7 shooting from three, turned the ball over 5 times. Despite trying to shut down the Buckeye offense by forcing shots from the outside in the 2-3 Zone, Ohio State nailed shots.
Yet Fred Hoiberg’s crew were able to frustrate a team that is very good at protecting the basketball.
The Buckeyes were forced into three straight turnovers nearly halfway through the second half. After having just two in the first half, Ohio State struggled to get any edge inside. With Melvin Ejim going to work, the Cyclones would cut the lead to one with 11:46 to play. After a beautiful dish from Ejim led to a Georges Niang dunk, Ejim would get the ball back off his own miss on the next possession and throw it down off another turnover.
A six point lead was cut to one with twelve minutes to play, but Aaron Craft found Deshaun Thomas in the corner after a kick out on a drive to the basketfor a huge three with a hand in his face to give Ohio State a 55-51 lead.
Then arguably the biggest surprise of the game took center stage.
The LaQuinton Ross show.