LOS ANGELES -- Quick reaction to No. 2 Ohio State’s 73-70 victory over No. 6 Arizona in the Sweet 16 at Staples Center on Thursday.
Overview: The crowd at Staples Center seemed to favor Arizona from the tipoff. The Wildcats' fans erupted when their squad hit the floor, and the team fed off that energy.
The Wildcats were more active and energetic than the Buckeyes in the first half. Mark Lyons was an offensive catalyst, scoring 10 points in the first half.
An Ohio State team that is usually poised suddenly looked uncomfortable. The Buckeyes, 11th in turnover rate per Ken Pomeroy entering the game, committed five turnovers in the first half.
Aaron Craft committed two fouls that limited his time. And Sean Miller went with a long, athletic lineup (Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Solomon Hill on the floor at the same time) that perplexed the Buckeyes. Kevin Parrom’s free throws gave Arizona a 33-22 lead with 6 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the first half.
Turning point: Once Craft re-entered the game in the final minutes of the first half, however, the Buckeyes began to roll. They finished the half on a 12-4 run. They were down by four points at halftime, but they clearly had the momentum.
Then, the Buckeyes started the second half on a 10-0 run. The Wildcats didn’t record their first points in the second half until the 14:40 mark, and by then, the Buckeyes had a 44-40 lead.
Ohio State maintained its edge throughout the second half. But the Wildcats kept pushing.
Arizona was down 67-61 with 3:16 to go, but the Wildcats' comeback was stifled by Lyons’ struggles after the break. He started the second half just 1-for-4 from the field.
LaQuinton Ross’ drive in the final two minutes gave Ohio State a six-point edge. But the Wildcats were down just three points with 53 seconds to go after Lyons’ late layup.
And then, Craft missed a layup. And Lyons went to the basket, scored and drew a foul. He hit the free throw. Tied game at 70-all with seconds on the game clock. But Ross hit a huge 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to play to ice the win.
Wow. What a game.
Stars of the game: Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 20 points, but he scored 16 in the first half. Ross scored 17 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer.
Stat of the game: Ohio State went 7-for-13 from the 3-point line.
Next: Ohio State will face Wichita State in the Elite Eight on Saturday.