Mar 22, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes forward Jared Sullinger (0) shoots over Cincinnati Bearcats forward Yancy Gates (34) in the first half of the semifinals in the east region of the 2012 NCAA men
And then there were 8… Ok, technically 12 still at the time I’m posting this, but 4 of them will be packing their bags very soon.
OSU overcame a second half run by Cincy, stepped up their defense, and got hot shooting the ball…like red hot…no, no, like Thad Matta hot…right Lesley Visser?
Well, that was awkward, but moving on…just as I have done with the Loyola (MD) and Gonzaga games, it’s time for a quick recap of the OSU versus Cincinnati slugfest, no pun intended, based on my predictions from earlier this week…
Mar 22, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats forward Yancy Gates (middle) battles for a loose ball with Ohio State Buckeyes guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (left) and guard Aaron Craft (4) in the second half of the semifinals in the east region of the 2012 NCAA men
#1 Guard (Cashmere Wright vs. Aaron Craft)
I told you that Cashmere Wright, Cincy’s point guard who has struggled a bit with turnovers would turn the ball over several times and continue his streaky shooting. Well, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Sure, he turned the ball over 3 times in the game thanks to constant bullying from Aaron Craft, but he also shot 50% from the field and 66% from behind the arc. Wright caught fire from behind the 3 point line as UC was mounting their impressive comeback at the start of the second half, but Craft rallied the troops and turned up the heat defensively and managed to kick start a counter run of his own. Craft finished with 11 points, which is over his average. Wright ended the game as UC’s leading scorer with 18. Although Wright led the Bearcats in scoring, Craft’s defense helped light a fire under his teammates and propel them back into the lead. A tough decision, but I’ll call this a push in productivity on the court, and give Craft the tiebreaker based on his leadership.
#2 Guard (Dion Dixon vs. Lenzelle Smith, Jr.)
Lenzelle Smith Jr. held Dion Dixon to 5 points under his scoring average, and his lowest output of this tournament. On top of that, LSJ was 9 points over his average and beat Dixon in every important statistical category other than offensive rebounds (1 to zero in Dixon’s favor). Smith Jr. was 6-7 from the field and produced his 3rd highest scoring output of the season. There’s no beating around the bush to be done with this matchup… LSJ is your winner, hands down.
#3 Guard (Jaquon Parker vs. William Buford)
Wow. I was wrong…really, really wrong. I said the this was Buford’s time to shine, and it wasn’t. Sure, picking him to light up an athletic zone team with guards to spare may not have been the brightest idea, but I had a gut feeling. Apparently that feeling was simply hunger, as it would appear that, in the words of John Cusack in High Fidelity, “Frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have sh*t for brains.”
While Parker didn’t exactly light up OSU with 10 points and a handful of rebounds, Buford had an off night to top all off nights. It was his worst performance since the 10 point loss to MSU in early February, and arguably worse than that because of his 4 personal fouls and 4 turnovers, which both led the team. I won’t dwell on this one, as I’m still a big Buford fan, but this one was certainly a game to forget for this senior. The edge in this matchup definitely went to Jaquon Parker from UC.
#4 Guard/Forward (Sean Kilpatrick vs. Deshaun Thomas)
My thought process in the time leading up to this game was pretty simple. Barring any unforeseen shooting records or breakdowns elsewhere on the court, if Deshaun Thomas had a good game, OSU would win. Well, Deshaun Thomas did not have a good game, he had an amazing game. He outscored UC’s leading scorer by 8 points (26 to 18), grabbed 7 boards (also more than anyone for UC), and was 59% from the field on 17 shots, including 3 treys. Thomas was the X Factor in this game, and he was brilliant.
In fact, he, alone, was only losing to the Bearcats by 5 at halftime. He scored 20 points in the first half, and was all but unstoppable. Kilpatrick had a very solid game, scoring 15 points and hitting 50% of his shots, but when you’re going up against a guy who does what Thomas did, your 15 points quickly become forgettable. This matchup, undeniably, goes to Deshaun Thomas.
#5 Forward (Yancy Gates vs. Jared Sullinger)
Despite a lot of talk about how Yancy Gates is stronger underneath than Jared Sullinger (yep, people actually said that), this battle was actually less of a battle than it was a joke. Jared had outperformed Gates’ end-of-game stats (7 points, 5 rebounds) just 12 minutes into the game. From there, he used his remaining 25 minutes on the court (Sully played 37 total minutes for those questioning why that doesn’t add up to 40) to take Yancy Gates apart in the paint. Sullinger ended the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
I’ll admit it. From what I had heard and seen, I thought that Gates would be a challenge for Sully, and could possibly hold his own with our All-American big man. As was the trend with my predictions about this game, I was wrong. Sure, I thought Sully would get the best of him in the end, but I didn’t expect him to make Gates look completely out of his league, like he did. This matchup, again, was all Buckeyes.