In what could have been his final game as a collegiate, D'Angelo Russell decided he wanted to spend a few more days in Portland.
Russell, a projected top-3 pick in this summer's NBA Draft, paced the Buckeyes with 28 points, carrying the bulk of the load and making the necessary plays at key moments to push Ohio State past VCU and its Havoc defense, 75-72, in overtime Thursday and into the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
|#10 OHIO STATE||29||37||9||75|
Russell and fellow guard Shannon Scott dealt with the constant pressure of VCU's press for most of the afternoon, with the latter often finding the star freshman in the second half for scoring opportunities.
Ohio State opened the game connecting on three of its first four shots, but a nearly seven-minute scoring drought put the Buckeyes in a familiar possession midway through the first half. The Rams led 25-13 after a 9-0 scoring run made Thad Matta burn a timeout with 6:38 left in the first half. The Buckeyes switched to a 2-3 zone defense out of the timeout, and it immediately paid dividends.
Ignited by timely shooting by Russell, the star freshman, and slick passing from Shannon Scott, the senior guard, the Buckeyes closed the half on a 16-5 run. The Rams led 30-29 at the break, despite out-rebounding Ohio State 24-17 in the first half and the Buckeyes only making 3-of-9 free throws. After Ohio State switched to zone, VCU missed 10 of its last 12 field goal attempts and turned the ball over three times to end the half.
Ohio State took its first lead since it was 2-0 on a 3-pointer by Russell in the first three minutes of the second half. That was part of a 10-0 run for Ohio State that had buckets from Russell, Scott and a dunk by Amir Williams in it to push it out front.
Russell continued to score for Ohio State in the second half, but four straight 3-pointers by VCU's Doug Brooks put the Rams up one with 12 minutes remaining.
It appeared as if VCU was going to seize control of the game after Brooks' shooting barrage, but the Buckeyes stayed in it behind Russell and fellow freshman Jae'Sean Tate.
|#10 OHIO STATE||STAT||#7 VCU|
|28-57 (49.1%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||24-63 (38.1%)|
|6-15 (40%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||10-26 (38.5%)|
|13-22 (59.1%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||14-19 (73.7%)|
With the game tied at 58 and five minutes on the clock, Russell took an elbow to his left eye when he was defending Brooks on a fastbreak. As Russell sat on the bench to get his bleeding cut under control, the officials called a Flagrant-I on Brooks.
Russell came back in with his wound glued and bandaged shut and made a free throw to put his team back on top by a point.
After a VCU bucket, Keita Bates-Diop nailed a deep trey from the wing and a pair of free throws by Amir Williams put the Buckeyes up four with 2:43 left.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Melvin Johnson, though, put the Rams back out front briefly. Williams' dunk made it 66-all with 1:16 left.
After a defensive stop and timeout, Scott's driving layup was off the mark, giving the Rams an opportunity to win it as the clock wound down. Shaka Smart opted to not call a timeout, though, and Treveon Graham missed a shot in the lane just before the buzzer sounded.
The teams exchanged baskets early in the extra period, and after Tate was disqualified from the game with his fifth foul, Bates-Diop answered the bell again and hit another huge 3-pointer.
Scott followed with a driving layup after a bucket by VCU, and after a few missed shots by Ohio State, Smart elected to call a timeout with his team trailing by three and 22.5 seconds left on the clock. Graham got a clean look to tie the game, but it slipped off the rim and into the arms of Bates-Diop.
That set the table for Russell to end ice game at the line, which he did.
The Buckeyes have a date with No. 2-seeded Arizona Saturday, who thrashed Texas Southern, 93-72, in the first game of the day at the Moda Center.