Friggin' Sweet

By Chris Lauderback on March 17, 2012 at 5:36p
AP: K. SrakocicCraft assisted on or scored 17 of OSU's 25 field goals

Ohio State used 18 points each from Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas, a sensational 17 point (7/9 FG), 10 assist effort from Aaron Craft and timely runs to down Gonzaga 73-66 this afternoon in Pittsburgh to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 for a third straight year. 

Tied at 61 with 4:05 to play after surrendering a 13-3 Zag spurt, the Buckeyes closed the game on a 12-5 run behind seven points from Sully including the go ahead bucket off a textbook low block move. 

Ohio State also hit 8/10 from the stripe during the late charge and held Gonzaga to 1/7 shooting to keep Mark Few's squad at bay. 

A swarming defense led by Craft out top held Gonzaga to 39% shooting on the afternoon and Craft personally destroyed Kevin Pangos, holding him to 3/13 from the floor with two turnovers. 

The only chink in the defensive armor came as the Buckeyes were a little soft on glass allowing the Zags to turn 13 offensive boards into 15 second chance points. 

While the late run was huge in that the Buckeyes have struggled to execute in the final minutes of some games, it was a 24-9 spurt that really put the Buckeyes in a position to win. 

Down 30-25 with 6:16 left in the first half, Thomas and Craft went gonzo scoring Ohio State's next 24 points to put the Buckeyes in front 49-41 with 14:53 left in the second half. Thomas scored 12 straight points just before the end of the half and Craft scored nine in a row before Thomas splashed a triple to polish off the crazy two man run. 

The run was all the more lovely as the Buckeyes were forced to play the last 9:12 of the opening half without Sullinger after he picked up his 2nd foul against eight points. 

The Buckeyes shot a ridiculous 62% in the first half but couldn't create any separation as they surrendered a pathetic nine offensive boards that Gonzaga turned into 13 second chance points. Thomas was 5/8 in the opening half whle Craft was 4/5 with 10 points and seven dimes. 

With the Zags employing 3/4 court press and falling back into zone for long stretches, Craft simply took control after some early turnovers and either assisted on or scored 17 of Ohio State's 25 field goals. 

Once again defying the "this team will only go as far as Buford will take it", the Buckeyes overcame a 4/13 shooting effort though he did add 13 points. He also kept me from at least pushing my final bet of the Vegas weekend with a missed free throw with 8.8 seconds to go. Damn you, WB. 

Overall, there are certainly things to tighten up but congrats to this team as they stuck together today in what was a wild game early and really took over when it mattered most. 

The Buckeyes will take on either Cincinnati or Florida State this Thursday night in the East Regional semifinal held in Boston. UC and FSU play tomorrow night in Nashville.


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AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

So I had to teach a class today and had to follow the game on Twitter. Just came home and started the game I had recorded on DVR. Listening to the pre-game, I really dont like Charles Barkley. Makes sense he would have to pay someone for a blow job.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

JakeBuckeye's picture

He's really not meant to be taken seriously. Turner broadcasting employs him simply as comedic relief, and if you watch the NBA panel on TNT ever, it does get pretty funny.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

What did Chuck say that was off other than his prediction of a loss? He tells it straight as he thinks it, and I respect it. He said Sully plays like he is used to being the biggest guy on the floor which is the most spot on assesment of Sully's game (when he struggles) I've heard. I love Sully, want him to dominate, but his game is limited in the post. Why is it limited? He is used to bullying folks around, most likely, and when he runs into stronger, bigger guys, he struggles. We saw signs of the monster coming out with Sully today, but it wasnt constant. Him coming out and hitting jumpers was fantastic. Still waiting for Sully to come out like Oden did against Florida....

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

Not just this game. My observation is that when faced with a choice to be diplomatic about the Buckeyes he chooses the other option. Can't think of a single time I have personally heard him compliment any Buckeye team. 

Like I said, just my observation.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

TLB's picture

He likes the Lady Bucks, but only because he is friends with Jim Foster

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I can see that. I remember him pissing me off last year.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

+1. We all love Sully and he is a solid college player. But when he faces players his size or dudes that can jump he has issues. He can't jump and if his timing is off he gets his shots blocked. I also feel he will be back next year. His weakness is taller players. He will face taller players every night in the NBA. He needs to come back and get better in order for him to have playing time in the league. Outside of that he is a Europe All-Star right now. I hope his pops confirms that its not about getting signed. Its about staying in the league.

Bucksfan's picture

Take solace in the fact that the golf gods have cursed him beyond repair.  But he's really just there to make you laugh.  I think he's pretty funny, anyway.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

I thought that was the difference in being ahead at half. Matta realized they needed help inside and the Zags had no idea that move was coming.

gravey's picture

I would have loved to have seen him more against MSU.  I know he's an offensive liability, but I think less than Ravenel (who did have one good game I can remember); but Ravenel just makes too many mistakes.

I'll have to trust that Matta and Co. know what they see in practice, but in games I've seen Williams as a quality shot changing defensive presence.  Let's hope we'll see more of him when we match up with some of the other teams with great length.


Bucks43201's picture

yes...Ravenel scares me every time he goes to pass the ball. Williams' length is so valuable against a team with a 6'10" or more big man. I would like to see Sully in there with Williams at the same time, maybe in a 2-3 zone, just to change it up sometimes

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Bucks's picture

It was fairly comical to watch Craft today. We've wished (not meant as a slight against him, just wish for small improvement) for him to be a better shooter at times & all saw today what happens when he answers that call. I realize everyone has their favorites in any sport & Craft is fast approaching the most memorable for me personally. Absolutely shut down Pangos.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Agree with thinking Craft had room for improvement during the season. He played one of the best overall games I've ever watched. I think he saved that ball after LSjr saved it. He had both hands off the floor when he touched the ball. I think Craft can get better still. Which is just crazy to think about.

RedStorm45's picture

Was at a bar and couldn't hear the announcers...did they explain that? He was technically out of bounds for a moment (without touching the ball), then he passed the ball to Sully - either the refs screwed it up or there's some football-like rule where you can't be the first guy to touch the ball if you were out of bounds or something.

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Look for the ESPN experts (ha, ha) to predict the Buckeyes to lose next Thursday night. They probably talked to Mel Kiper to get the lowdown on our guys going down to the Zags.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Maybe it's just me but I'm a Ravenal fan. He plays his arse off and actually boxes folks out for boards and sets some mean screens and plays hard D. I like this team. I think it takes a lot to overcome losing the leadership they lost and they are playing some tough basketball right now. If they don't turn the ball over.......anything is possible.

LadyBuck's picture

I'm a huge Ravenel fan. I think he comes in and plays with great energy and moves well. The problem is he's over eager at times. He may not be the most talented or athletic player, but he is a quality player on my opinion.

Bucksfan's picture

I'd love to see he and Sully out on the floor at the same time a little more often.  No one else would get a rebound.

highwire's picture

It's not just you. I think there have been a number of times that he has outplayed Sully...He's big, intense (sometimes- MSU), and I'm glad that he's on our side. Also, I just feel like saying Aaron Craft is a badass and I can't wait to follow the rest of his career.

RedStorm45's picture

He's ok.  Usually good for 3-4 combination of fouls and turnovers in about his 6-8 minutes of PT.

LadyBuck's picture

This was a great tough-it-out games for the Bucks. I'm glad we have the grit to finally win these types of games. Aaron Craft played out of his mind today, and it was great to see him become an offensive threat. It was also nice to see Buford take charge of collecting those second half boards, since that was the biggest problem in the first half. It's nice to see that this team doesn't have to depend on one player, and that we can find a way to win these games. Give credit to Gonzaga, they played on heck of a game. 

I'd also like to correct myself. Apparently the ESPN box scores aren't right (who woud've thunk?), and Craft only tied Conely's record today -he didn't break it. My bad. For the record, Coach Matta thought he broke it, too. 

Good win, Happy St. Patrick's Day, and Go Bucks.

JakeBuckeye's picture

Verne and Raft want Kentucky so bad. Two straight NICE dunks by Iowa State = limited excitement from both. One BASIC jumpshot from Anthony Davis = "WHAT CAN'T HE DO?!?!" (P.S. Raft, Davis certainly can't win a beauty contest.)

JakeBuckeye's picture

Royce White is litterally dominating Kentucky's defense. Very, very interesting...

LadyBuck's picture

I'm not watching the game. How is Royce White dominating that Kentucky defense that can't be dominated because of the unibrow?

JakeBuckeye's picture

Ugh. Royce White had to take a break and Kentucky went on a run with three straight three pointers. But up until he went out he was litterally getting anything he wanted on offense.

JakeBuckeye's picture

*Iowa State misses an uncontested layup*


Bucksfan's picture

The big white goons of the north are gonna get their shot at Cuse.  Good for my bracket, bad for America.

TLB's picture

Vandy jackin up a three and only needed a 2 for the tie

Brutus's picture

Anyone else think that the assistant coach that sits right next to Matta (not Chris Jent) looks a lot like Stephen Merchant, but with graying hair? Makes me laugh everytime.

Oh, and nice win. Solid performance all around. Gonzaga is better than a seven seed in my opinion. The Buckeyse beat a very good team today.

TLB's picture

B1G is now 7-1.  Thank you tsun.

osukdawg76's picture

I'm quite alright with that.

I, for one, welcome our new coaching overlords.



TLB's picture

and I hate IU so I would be ok with them taking the gas pipe.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Very solid showing by the good guys today against a tough team in the Zags. 

Definitely, glad to see a team effort today. 

Craft badger was amazing today! I would hate to be the guy matched up against him. 

Tank was all over the place. He knocked shots down, grabbed boards, and is improving on defense.

Sully had a rough first half but calmed down and started to play solid when it counted.

Willy B had some struggles but made some great shots and had some key rebounds.

Amir put in some good minutes when Sullly was out and I hope to see him get more time. 

Zell knocked down some big shots today!

Rav has a bunch of energy and he gets too excited at times. He's definitely improving from the beginning of the season though.

A very solid win that will help them continue to grow as a team. 

RedStorm45's picture

D.T. with 2 blocks??!!

BuckeyeChris's picture

"The only chink in the defensive armor..."

Rest assured, the PC Police are hard at work digging for any possible Asian-American affiliation with this basketball squad. If so, enjoy your "vacation." 

Doug Funnie's picture

I hope Amir Williams will get a couple more minutes a game from this performance.  That would deepen the bench and give us another defender.  Craft was very impressive.  Happy with 4 B1G teams in the sweet 16.  After watching the UK game, I now think they could be beat by a physical team.  They were definately having trouble with Iowa State's physical play.  I could see Sparty taking them out, assuming they play.