COLUMBUS, Ohio – This time it was LaQuinton Ross’s turn to play the hero: The sophomore nailed a game-winning three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to lift Ohio State past Arizona 73-70 and into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The Buckeyes will play #9 seed Wichita State at 7:05 p.m. Saturday (CBS).
Ross’s shot (above) was reminiscent of Aaron Craft’s last-second shot last Sunday that beat Iowa State and got the 2nd-seeded Buckeyes into the Sweet 16.
“It was similar to the play we ran last game. We like to get the big that’s pick and roll. It so happened they messed up on the switch right there, and I was able to knock down the shot,” Ross said.
To make the shot relevant, Ohio State had to rally from an 11‐point deficit, making this the largest comeback win for Ohio State this season.
Trailing 38-22 with 6:24 left in the first half, Craft returned from the bench to spark a 16-5 rally that closed the gap at 38-38 within the first two minutes of the second half.
The Buckeyes’ defense, which had been porous at times in the first half, proved to be their salvation in the second.
“That was a lot of what we talked about at halftime of don’t be selfish on defense. We can’t win if we play selfish on defense. I thought that was one of the big keys to the start of the second half was just our activity,” head coach Thad Matta said.
Deshaun Thomas scored 20 points and Ross had 17 off the bench, none bigger than that final three:
“It feels great, man. This is what every player grows up looking at on TV and wants to hit that big shot, wants to win the game and hit the big shot,” he said.
Ohio State (28-7) advances to its second consecutive Elite Eight and 14th all‐time.
The 9th-seeded Shockers beat LaSalle 72-58 to advance to Saturday’s game against what coach Gregg Marshall callls “one of the nation’s top programs.”
“They’re big, they’re strong, they’re athletic, fast, so it’ll be a great challlenge for us,” Marshall said.
Mark Lyons dropped in a game-high 23 points for the sixth-seeded Wildcats, who end their season 27-8.