Associated Press - Ohio State needed another last-second shot, and Aaron Craft had the ball at the top of the key again. But last week's hero gave it up to the hottest hand on the floor, and LaQuinton Ross sent the Buckeyes to the brink of their second straight Final Four. Ross hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2 seconds to play, and Ohio State advanced to the West Regional final with a 73-70 victory over Arizona on Thursday night.
Ross, Ohio State's remarkable reserve, scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half for the second-seeded Buckeyes (29-7), who rallied from an early 11-point deficit. With Ross making a series of tough shots capped by that dramatic 3, Ohio State weathered the sixth-seeded Wildcats' late charge for its 11th consecutive victory since mid-February. Arizona couldn't get off a shot on its last-second inbounds heave, and Mark Lyons greeted Ross in the postgame handshakes with a joking, "I can't stand you!"
Lyons' acrobatic three-point play for the Wildcats (27-8) had tied it with 21.8 seconds left, thanks to a foul by Ross. But Ross knew he might be in for a special moment when he was assigned Kobe Bryant's stall in the Lakers' locker room at Staples Center -- and he nailed a shot that would have made the NBA star proud.
Lyons scored 23 points, including his gutsy three-point play for the Wildcats, who rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half before falling just short of their second NCAA regional final in four years. Solomon Hill added 16 points in his native Los Angeles, but the rest of Arizona combined for just 31 points on 10-for-29 shooting. Although Arizona coach Sean Miller lamented his team's coverage mistake on the final possession, he still praised his players.
"I'm proud of our guys' effort," Miller said. "We tried hard, and losing in this tournament when you play hard to the end hurts more in the beginning, but I think you leave with a lot of pride knowing you played your heart out."