The first meeting between these two teams since they met in the Sweet 16 of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross hits the game-winning buzzer beater three to send Arizona home. Two years later and it's two completely different teams. T.J. McConnell was redshirting, Gabe York, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski were freshmen.
McConnell led the charge to help fight the zone defense of Ohio State, finishing the half with eight points. But Arizona didn't have much of an answer when the ball wasn't in McConnell's hands, resulting in six first half turnovers. The offensive woes of Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also hurt Arizona early. Johnson finished the half 1-7, meanwhile Hollis-Jefferson was 0-5. But after some adjustments and tenacious rebounding, Arizona starting working on the inside. Kaleb Tarczewski was able to grab six rebounds, adding four points in the first half.
Arizona didn't let D'Angelo Russell get the shots he wanted. Earlier this week, Russell told the media that he wears number 0 to represent the number of guys that can guard him. Sean Miller rotated McConnell, Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson to match up against him, making him eat his words. He finished 3-19, totaling 9 points. Although they locked down Russell offensively, he still managed to lead his teammates to scoring opportunities, just not enough.
It was all Arizona in the second half, where Sean Miller made the right adjustments to bust the zone defense. The story of the day was Gabe York, who came out with the three balls in the second half, finishing with 19 points. He couldn't do it without the presence and court vision of McConnell, who ended with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Since the end of the regular season, Arizona has been playing lights out. This is the reason why everyone believes that Arizona can be the one to take down Kentucky. Keep playing like this, and they'll be right in position to do so. Arizona will now move on to play the winner of the Xavier/Georgia State matchup to advance to the Elite 8.
But for now, 17 Sweet 16's. 5 down. 4 to go.