Not many people outside of Columbus, Ohio, like Aaron Craft. He knows it. Ohio State knows it. The world knows it. Maybe it’s the pesky defense. Maybe it’s sliding in position for charges, especially in the waning seconds of an amazing game. Maybe it’s everything, all wrapped into a single target-able package.
But darn it if most don’t respect him. And yet, even after an atrocious final two minutes filled with turnovers and missed free throws, he continues to make big plays, sinking the game-winner in a 78-75 thriller.
— CBSSports.com (@CBSSports) March 24, 2013
Of course, none of this would have happened had the referee not whistled a charge on Will Clyburn when he barreled into Craft about a minute earlier (a call that was essentially deemed incorrect by John Adams, the NCAA’s coordinator of officials, in a CBS interview after the game). It allowed Ohio State to reclaim possession with 58 seconds left, score game tied, looking for a two-for-one scenario.
Except Craft stalled. The shot clock bled. He dribbled around before hoisting a jumper that bricked. The rebound got tipped out of bounds by Iowa State. So Craft, who had missed three free throws and committed two turnovers in the final five minutes, had one last shot to redeem himself.
The officials put 0.5 of a second back on the clock, but Iowa State couldn’t muster anything more than a tipped baseball pass as the clock ran out. Craft said told CBS that he wanted the ball at the end. He shrugged off a ball screen, getting a mismatch against freshman Georges Niang — who gave him a little unappreciated bump earlier in the game — and sank the three-pointer just before the buzzer.
Craft’s shot came after a furious Iowa State run that made a double-digit lead disappear. And the Cyclones did it all without Chris Babb, who sprained his ankle on this nasty play in the first half.
Marshall Henderson, basketball player/social commentator, was nonetheless impressed. Ohio State advances to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season, to face No. 6 Arizona.
— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) March 24, 2013
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