The game started how Ohio State wanted it to start. You couldn’t have asked for a better half of basketball. Arizona came in as a 2-seed and completely dominated its first match-up against Texas Southern but today was a different story going against the highly under-rated Buckeyes and D’Angelo Russell. Russell has stepped into the national spotlight by leading the NCAA in points per game by a freshman. And if you can remember Ohio State sent Arizona packing two years ago in the West Regional semifinals, but it didn’t happen this time despite a great effort from Ohio State. Arizona pulled away late for a 73-58 win.
Russell (9 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) couldn’t quite duplicate the magic despite a valiant effort. T.J. McConnell took over the game for the Wildcats with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Arizona overcame a very sluggish start by going ahead by 15 points with a little over six minutes left in the game. Arizona started to capitalize off turnovers out-scoring Ohio State 20-7 on points off turnovers. Arizona’s McConnell became just the sixth player in NCAA tournament history to record at least 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals in a game. The Buckeyes just couldn’t withstand the pressure. If Russell could have continued his shooting streak from his game against VCU, it might have been a different outcome.
McConnell just down-right went to work. The 6-1 senior took the game over and left Ohio State wondering what could have been. He shot 61 percent and led the Wildcats in assists, steals, and tied for points with 19. He shot 49 percent for the year but stepped up big when it counted.
The Wildcats will move on to face the Winner of North Carolina and Wisconsin. Arizona lost to Wisconsin in last year’s regional final in overtime but remains on track to get its revenge … unless Xavier and North Carolina have anything to say about it.