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!
After two intense, focused, well-played games against Minnesota and Michigan State, Ohio State went to Evanston for the return match against Northwestern. Despite being substantially undermanned, the game pretty much went as they usually do in Evanston. The Buckeyes took down the Wildcats 63-53. It was anything but easy, and everything you’ve come to expect when these teams play in Evanston. Lenzelle Smith led all scorers with 24 points while DeShaun Thomas scored 19 for the game. Northwestern saw only Tre Demps (14) and Dave Sobolewski (13) score in double digits for the game.
The Bucks squeaked out this win to get closer to a #4 seed in Big Ten Tourney. After exploding out of the gates, thanks to Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s 3-point deluge, the Buckeyes settled into some uninspired offense. After DeShaun Thomas got the show started with a field goal 17 seconds into the game, by the 17:00 mark, ‘Zelle was 3-3 from ‘3’. Halfway through the 1st half, OSU had a 20-10 lead. Things flattened out quite a bit as they only managed 9 more points and went into half 29-22.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes did manage to play some defense, limiting Northwestern to 7 field goals (35%), while committing 6 turnovers. This was a half of wasted opportunities; defense played reasonably well enough, but the offense hit stretches where it just stalled. For example, in the last four minutes of the half, OSU was 0-4 from the field.
The 2nd half started with aggressive play from the Wildcats as they got whistled for 4 fouls in just over a minute of play. They also found their range, making their first four FG’s and 2 Ft’s to pull with 2, 36-34. The 1st half offensive woes were solved for the moment. Meanwhile OSU went cold.
In the end, the Bucks managed to retake the lead with 3:50 to play on a trey by Smith. Then, similarly to the game in Columbus, OSU was able to gradually pull away for the final margin. The win moves the Buckeyes to 21-7, 11-5 for the season.
Riding a two game win streak, including last Sunday’s great win over the Spartans, the Buckeyes are now facing what may or may not be an extremely dangerous test – the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, Illinois. The pretty kitties have a tendency to play tenacious basketball at home, and the Bucks haven’t always done so well against the Princeton Offense, but the sheer quantity of injuries to the ‘Cats might make it difficult for them.
Today’s game is scheduled for 7 PM EST on the Big Ten Network. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
The Buckeyes got all they could handle this evening against a wounded but surprisingly game Wildcats team. Ultimately the foul situation for their front court, and the talent of the Buckeyes, spelled doom for Northwestern who fell by a final of 69-59. DeShaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 22 points, and was joined in double figures by Lenzelle Smith (12), Sam Thompson (11), and Amir Williams (10). Northwestern also saw four players break double figures tonight, including Tre Demps (16), Kale Abrahamson (13), Reggie Hearn (12), and Dave Sobolewski (10).
Northwestern was capable of dressing only 9 players for this game due to the large number of injuries they’ve sustained this season. Most recently was the loss of Jared Swopshire which was expected to hurt the Wildcat’s scoring. That was not evident in the first few minutes of the game as OSU struggled to play with energy, particularly on the interior. OSU eventually managed to counter by finding success with Lenzelle Smith shooting the ball, and running Trey McDonald on the interior to try to ignite some intensity. Williams did come back into the game and was able to make his presence felt towards the end, but it wasn’t enough with the Wildcats raining in the three pointers with ease.
Thad Matta came out of the half with a strategy to attack Northwestern’s young front court which seemed to work initially. Northwestern responded by eliminating the easy passing lanes and forcing bad turnovers when the Bucks did try to enter the paint. The Wildcats weren’t able to consistently capitalize due to the Buckeyes finally entering desperation mode on defense, which kept the game well within striking distance despite the poor offense. OSU was finally able to turn things around, but at such a late stage in the game that there was no way to avoid a tight battle. By the end, Bill Carmody began to have serious trouble with the foul situation in his front court leaving him with few experienced options in a critical junction of a tight ballgame.
There’s only one thing to take away from this game as a fan – this is further proof of just how tough the Big Ten is this year. Northwestern came into a hostile environment with very few scholarship players left and gave it to the Buckeyes for the better part of 40 minutes of play. Carmody is simply a fantastic basketball coach and his players give him everything they have on a regular basis.
The team can take a lot from this moving forward. There are plenty of places they need to work on, but they were able to dig deep and gut out a tough win. It’s a lot easier to learn from a tough win than an ugly loss.
The Buckeyes are coming off consecutive losses to top competition in the B1G. Next up are Bill Carmody’s Northwestern Wildcats.
Today’s game is scheduled for 7 PM EST on the CBS. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 Week Ahead and Week in Review
1. Duke (14-0, 1-0) Previous Rank: 1
Past Week: 1/2 @ Davidson, W 67-50 & 1/5 Wake Forest, W 80-62
Upcoming: 1/8 Clemson & 1/12 @ (23) N.C. State
After being tied at halftime with Davidson, Duke pulled away to stay unbeaten. This week a trip to N.C. State will prove to be their first test in the ACC. Read More
OK, this one might actually be interesting…
The History: The Tositos Fiesta Bowl has been a staple in Glendale, AZ for 42 years. A group from Arizona State originally pitched the idea to the NCAA in 1968 but the NCAA rejected the proposal. One year later the NCAA approved the bowl as part of their annnual bowl games. The Fiesta Bowl is played at The University of Phoenix Stadium and has hosted 7 National Championship games (Does anyone remember 2002?) since it was first played in 1971. Not only is this Fiesta Bowl important to college footbal, it is important to the Glendale area. Over a 5 year span the bowl has generated over $1 Billion in the Glendale economy.