Ohio State: 25-33–58
Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats, the No. 2 seed in the West Region, advanced to Los Angeles to the Sweet 16. It is the program’s third consecutive season in the Sweet 16.
The Pac-12 was undervalued coming into the NCAA Tournament. The conference sent just four teams into the Big Dance, but Arizona, along with UCLA, were two of the first three teams to advance to the Regionals along with 36-0 Kentucky.
The Wildcats struggled for a large portion of the 1st half. The team could not figure out Ohio state’s stubborn 2-3 zone. In the 2nd half, Arizona spread the floor using Gabe York. The result? Arizona was able to hit three-point shots — York had five of the seven Wildcats made three-point shots and went 5/9 himself — and distance themselves from the Buckeyes and eventually pull away.
Ohio State freshman phenom D’Angelo Russell finally hit the wall. Russell finished 3-for-19 with just nine points. Despite several pretty passing plays throughout the game, Russell couldn’t get going thanks to Arizona’s suffocating defense and dominance on the glass, which led to not many Ohio State second-chance opportunities. The wildcats were a plus-17 on the glass.
Click here for the game’s full box score and a continued recap.
– Arizona was uncharacteristically careless with the basketball early.
The Wildcats turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, and had four turnovers in the game’s first five minutes. This continued well into the 1st half. At the 5:40 mark, each team had six turnovers.
– The Buckeyes best player, D’Angelo Russell, missed his first four shot attempts. Russell never got into a huge rhythm, but helped his other teammates out.
– Arizona struggled to make shots early, despite their strength on the glass and continuously getting second-chance opportunities for points.
Arizona struggled finding their offensive and defensive game early.
– The passing in the 1st half by both teams was simply unbelievable.
Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson didn’t score in the 1st half, but he contributed in other ways, helping the Wildcats when Stanley Johnson was on the bench.
– Arizona led Ohio State 26-25 at the half. The Wildcats had an ugly 1st half offensive output shooting just 32%. The Buckeyes fared no better, but shot 40%. No player scored in double figures.
– Russell had a better start to the 2nd half, assisting on a transition play that led the Buckeyes first field goal. He still hasn’t completely found if offensive game, though — he is /13 from the field. The Russell Westbrook comparisons are surely there, so far.
– Because Ohio State hasn’t budged from utilizing a 2-3 zone to defend Arizona, the Wildcats have had to get craft in creating shots.
Besides senior guard T.J. McConnell’s slashing plays, which have been mildly successful, three-point specialist Gabe York has come off the bench and gone 4/6 from downtown, including three threes in the 2nd half thus far, to give the wildcats a huge momentum boost. Arizona’s 46-36 lead at the 11:11 mark was their largest of the game.
Arizona Looks to Reach the Sweet 16 for the 3rd Consecutive Season
The West Region had two dominant teams as its top two seeds. The Arizona Wildcats easily took care of Texas-Southern in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes? They had a bit of a struggle against the higher-seeded VCU Rams, but still managed to pull out the 10-7 upset and earn a date with the Wildcats in the Round of 32.
While Arizona boasts a formidable, balanced team that can defend and rebound, their best player is freshman guard Stanley Johnson who keeps raising his NBA Draft stock each game. Not to be outdone, Ohio State has D’Angelo Russell and, barring injury, a likely slam-dunk top four pick in June’s Draft.
Russell can answer the call if need be. The Buckeyes struggled for a better part of this season in a overall noticeably weaker Big Ten, but with Wisconsin, Michigan State and Iowa victories during the Tournament’s first two days, the stock of the conference has gone up.
The winner of this game plays the winner of No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 14 Georgia State in the Sweet 16 — that game will start at 6:10 p.m. Eastern, the next game on the Saturday slate.