Rushed Reaction: #2 Ohio State 73, #7 Gonzaga 66Posted by JPriz on March 17th, 2012
Three key takeaways.
- Great teams make big plays. Gonzaga was impressive for 38 minutes. They absolutely battled tooth and nail with one of the best teams in the country in Ohio State, but during the last two minutes they didn’t make the plays they needed to win. Elias Harris missed two crucial free throws. The defense couldn’t stop Jared Sullinger. The offense couldn’t make the big shots. Ohio State delivered when the game was on the line in the tough moments, and that’s why they are a great team, and that’s why Gonzaga will be going home.
- Stars will be stars, and some won’t. Ohio State almost has a roster of stars from Sullinger to Aaron Craft to Deshaun Thomas to William Buford. Gonzaga has one big star in Robert Sacre. Sullinger and Craft, as will be noted below, showed up big, especially when it counted. Thomas, who annihilated Loyola on Thursday for 31, was sleepwalking through the first half, and ended up with 12 points in a hurry. Buford, who didn’t show up until late against Loyola, was solid and very smooth tonight with 13. Sacre, on the other hand, didn’t show up in the way that the Zags needed. He finished with eight points, but only had brief glimpses in this one of his potential dominance. He blocked Sullinger and got him into foul trouble, but other than that, he didn’t give enough to get the Zags over the top.
- Ohio State still has upside. As crazy as this may seem, Ohio State still has a lot of upside in this tournament. They were outrebounded heavily in the first half, and that’s the sole reason that the Zags were still in the game. The Zags had 13 2nd half points in the first half, so it is clear that Ohio State has work to do on the boards. On the offensive end, Lenzelle Smith Jr didn’t make much of a presence until late in the 2nd half when he knocked down a big 3. The same can be said of Deshaun Thomas who had a goose egg halfway through the 1st. It’s almost scary to think that once this team puts a complete game together they might be able to beat the best teams here by double digits.
Star(s) of the game. Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger, Ohio State. Aaron Craft wound up finishing the night with a very solid double-double. He had 17 points on 7-9 from the field to go with 10 assists to go with two turnovers. He completely dominated in the first half and took Kevin Pangos to school. Jared Sullinger finished with 18 points on 5-9 from the field, 6-7 from the line, and hit some of the biggest shots at the end of the game, including some very clutch free throws to close it out.
Sights & Sounds. Ohio State doesn’t mess around when it comes to school spirit. They brought their band, their cheerleaders, their mascot, and their fans. They performed their fight song several times throughout the game, and every fan was dotting the I.
What’s Next? #2 Ohio State will advance to take on the winner of #3 FSU/#6 Cincinnati. OSU will match up very well with either, as both Florida State and Cincinnati has plenty of size and speed. Ohio State matches up well with any team in the country. They will just have to make sure that everyone comes to play from start to finish, and hits the boards a little harder.