Wichita State Advances to Final Four with Narrow Victory vs. Ohio State

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMarch 30, 2013

Let the "shocking" puns begin.

The No. 9 Wichita State Shockers are headed to the 2013 Final Four after knocking off the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, 70-66, on Saturday night, dominating the first half and holding on late to represent the West region in Atlanta.

Malcolm Armstead led the Shockers with 14 points, representing the balanced scoring attack that Wichita State has used all tournament. Cleanthony Early had 12 points, Tekele Cotton added 10 and Ron Baker and Carl Hall chipped in nine and eight points, respectively.

Freshman guard Fred Van Vleet stepped up big for the Shockers late in this game, hitting a three in the second half that helped keep Ohio State at bay and knocking down a leaning layup with a little over a minute to play that was ultimately the dagger for Wichita State. He finished with 12 points off the bench.

Ohio State completes its tournament run with a 29-8 season record.

Deshaun Thomas got off to a slow start, one of the big reasons why Ohio State fell behind 13 points at halftime. Thomas finished with at least 20 points for the fourth straight tournament game (23), but he shot just 8-of-20 and didn't do enough in the early going to provide Ohio State with the edge it likely needed.

Aaron Craft also struggled from the field, scoring nine points on 2-of-12 shooting. Wichita State's game plan to let Craft shoot the pull-up jumper turned out to be wise, as Craft couldn't connect on the mid-range shot to make the Shockers adjust their defense.

LaQuinton Ross, the hero in the win over Arizona, had another impressive game off the bench with 19 points and five rebounds. It wasn't enough to complete an epic comeback, though, as Ohio State came within three points before bowing out in the West regional final.

Wichita State's magical tournament run continues, with its resume now including wins over No. 8 Pittsburgh, No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 13 La Salle and now Ohio State.

The Shockers await the winner of the Midwest regional final between No. 2 Duke and No. 1 Louisville, scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.

Florida Gulf Coast captured our hearts as the low seed that made the most noise in the early part of the tournament, but it's Wichita State—the runner-up to Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference—that plays on with the most recent chance to become a Cinderella champion.

 

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