First, it was Aaron Craft who dropped the dagger that sank Iowa State last weekend. Without LaQuinton Ross, however, the second-seeded Buckeyes might not have even been in that position to receive Craft’s heroics. Ross’s 17 points carried Ohio State, but Craft’s three-pointer stole the narrative.
So Ross decided to one-up his teammate in the Sweet 16. Arizona hedged onto Craft after a screen, leaving Ross wide open on the left wing.
Sean Miller: “We switched maybe 400 hand-offs and ball-screens during the game. But we didn’t on the last play. We switched every other one”
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 29, 2013
It also justified the immense enthusiasm shown by Ohio State’s trombone player.
Want some more background on Ross, who entered averaging just 7.7 points per game but again finished with 17? Here’s SI.com’s Andy Glockner, wisely pegging Ross as Ohio State’s “x-factor”:
The less-discussed variable in the win over the Cyclones, though, was Thad Matta’s more liberal use of a smaller, more athletic lineup that included sophomore LaQuinton Ross. Ross, a former top-50 recruit who has taken some time to blossom in Columbus, delivered three huge three-pointers on his way to 17 points while helping the Buckeyes cope a bit better with Iowa State’s spread attack and slashing wings.
Craft getting to the rim more frequently is a nice plus for Ohio State, but Ross has game-changing offensive ability and positional flexibility. His late-season emergence is a huge potential X-factor for the Buckeyes, who didn’t have anyone other than Thomas average in double figures during the regular season.
“LaQuinton’s a very dynamic player. He’s a guy offensively who you wish you could be,” said senior forward Evan Ravenel. “Offensively, he’s got everything you need. Post up, shoot the three, dribble the ball, pass the ball, everything. So it’s an extreme disadvantage to anybody — a guard or a big — who has to guard him.”
UPDATE: Well, obviously.
LaQuinton Ross, he of the Ohio State game winner, has been using Kobe Bryant’s locker.
— Greg Bishop (@nytbishop) March 29, 2013
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