Arizona defeated Ohio State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, 73-58, in a game where the Buckeyes started fast but couldn't hold an early first half lead.
The Buckeyes came out in a zone and stifled the Wildcats' offense in the early stages of the first half. It seemed like Ohio State was in a good position trailing by a single point at halftime with its leading scorer D'Angelo Russell struggling from the field.
Russell could never catch fire the way he did Thursday against VCU and the Buckeyes' defense began to fall apart when the Wildcats exploited the opportunities for open jump shots against the zone.
Junior guard Gabe York scored 19 points off the bench on 5-of-9 from 3-point range. Russell shot just 3-of-19 from the field and 1-of-7 from behind the arc. Russell had been the bright spot all season for a team that struggled to score when it needed it most.
His ability to get his teammates involved showed out in the first half, but too many times the seniors on the team couldn't pick up the slack if Russell wasn't able to knock down his highly contested jump shots.
3 things we learned
1) The Buckeyes tried but couldn't do enough to pick up their super freshman. In a game where D'Angelo Russell struggled from the field, his team wasn't able to pick up his slack. Russell did his best to keep his teammates involved, but Ohio State needed his scoring more than anything Saturday. He shot less than 20 percent from the field and couldn't get a rhythm going.
Seniors Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson added 10 points each, but the Buckeyes weren't able to stop the flood gates once Arizona began to shoot over top of Ohio State's zone. It was a harsh reality that if Russell couldn't anchor the offense, the Buckeyes were going to lose in this tournament.
2) D'Angelo Russell is going to be a sensational pro. Russell struggled to get on the board in the first half, starting out just 2-of-11 in the first half, but his spectacular talent still showed out. The freshman from Louisville, KY, dropped five assists in the first half, including a no-look dime from half court to his running mate Jae'Sean Tate. Russell's ability to see the floor is unmatched in college basketball and he has the look of a guy who could be running a team in the NBA this time next year.
If NBA general managers like Phil Jackson are wise, they'll consider taking Russell No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft. The league is getting faster and the demand for a guard that can do everything on the court is continuing to grow. There are a few players on Kentucky's roster that will have something to say about it, but Russell might have to switch out his signature No. 0 -- because zero people can guard him -- for a No. 1 when he's taken first in June.
3) Amir *can* show emotion. All season the Buckeyes have been searching for their senior center to give them just a little bit of passion. Williams has been a completely different player than the guy who is the butt many jokes in the Ohio State community. He's been playing with some enthusiasm on the defensive end and has been attacking the rim with reckless abandon. Williams didn't want his Ohio State career to end so soon, but the Buckeyes didn't have the athletes to stay with Arizona. Once it figured out the zone, it was bombs away from deep for Arizona and its perimeter players.