Top Highlights from Day 9 of the NCAA Tournament
Syracuse and Wichita State moved on to the 2013 NCAA tournament Final Four in Atlanta on Saturday night. They will soon be joined by the winner of Duke vs. Louisville in the Midwest Region and Michigan vs. Florida in the South Region.
Saturday night's games pitted Syracuse against Big East rival Marquette (a team that had already defeated the Orange in the regular season), and Ohio State against Wichita State in a matchup of West region hopefuls.
President Barack Obama took some time out from his busy schedule to see the Orange knock off the Golden Eagles in our nation's capital, while Wichita State got up early and held on late against Ohio State at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Saturday can be a busy time for some folks, so there's no guarantee you were able to sit down and watch all six hours of March Madness on Saturday.
Check out the next few slides for all the rim-rocking, big-time playmaking and clutch shooting from all four teams on Day 9 of the Big Dance.
Amir Williams Gets Up
Ohio State didn't get off to the start it wanted against the Shockers, falling behind in the first half after the shooting just wasn't there.
You wouldn't know that by watching this clip of Amir Williams, though.
He made sure Malcolm Armstead was aware of the interior defense that Williams would be providing for the rest of the evening.
Armstead got the last laugh with several impressive drives in the second half, but this block from Williams was one of the best moments from the Ohio State team.
C.J. Fair with the Drop-Step Dunk
Marquette decided to try and give Syracuse a bit of its own medicine.
Buzz Williams employed the 2-3 zone (which is what Syracuse uses so well) as his own defense in the first half.
East Regional Most Outstanding Player Michael Carter-Williams attacked the wing of the zone with ease on this particular play, showing that the Orange likely practice against the zone that they use every game, too.
He found C.J. Fair on the left baseline and behind the defense, and the result was an easy dunk that set the tone for the Orange early in the game. Fair finished with 13 points, six rebounds and a slew of late baskets that helped Syracuse pull away.
But this pull-bank two-hand slam was a great highlight during Syracuse's 55-39 win over Marquette.
Jamil Wilson Has Long Arms
There weren't many highlights that include Marquette success, but this one from Jamil Wilson is definitely one of them.
Syracuse was running out the clock when Brandon Triche took off for the bucket, getting all the way to the rim before Wilson came out of nowhere to capture an athletic block in the late stages of the second half.
Wilson (6'7") showed off his long arms on this play, fully extending his body to reach Triche's layup.
It also gives the Golden Eagle faithful something to look forward to during Wilson's senior season in 2013-14.
Deshaun Thomas Awakens Late
It was a tough fourth game in the 2013 tournament for Deshaun Thomas—particularly from the field.
Thomas struggled to find his shooting stroke, but still managed to finish with more than 20 points for the fourth-straight time in March Madness.
He got going in the second half after a rough start, highlighted by this play against the Wichita State defense.
Thomas—playing with four fouls—gets the offensive rebound, gathers himself and goes back up towards the rim, gaining the foul in the process and getting an old-fashioned three-point play.
Carl Hall Can Play a Little Bit
If you don't know Carl Hall, you should after the NCAA tournament.
He and the Wichita State Shockers have "shocked" the nation with inspired play since March Madness began.
He showed up big in the first half against Ohio State, recording three blocks and sending another shot away that wound up being a foul on a teammate. This play was absolutely textbook against the Buckeyes in the first half, and likely made all of his former and current coaches proud.
As they say, defense wins championships.
Fred Van Vleet from Deep
Fred Van Vleet doesn't have the easiest name to pronounce, but you'll more than likely remember it after an impressive tournament performance off the bench for Wichita State.
He struck again from deep against Ohio State in the second half of his team's big win. This time it was an off-balance shot from the left corner that gave the Shockers a 20-point lead against Ohio State.
The rest of the field will take note after another nice game off the bench: Van Vleet is a guy you can't leave open when things break down on defense.
Armstead to the Rim
Malcolm Armstead has been the man for Wichita State during its improbable run.
This layup should speak volumes about his ability to break down a defense. It shows how he can effortlessly glide down the lane and the athleticism he displays in using the scoop shot to evade the defender.
There's no doubt who the on-court leader for Wichita State is: it's Armstead.
The Shockers are a different team when he's on the court, and that was on display Saturday as Armstead attacked the rim and made the nifty finish.
Davante Gardner Doing All He Can
Davante Gardner missed all of three shots from the field in two games against Syracuse this season.
Looking back, Buzz Williams might second-guess his team's inability to find Gardner in the post in the second half.
The Golden Eagles found him on this play late in the game, a highlight indicative of the type of game Gardner (14 points, eight rebounds) had all night in the middle of the Orange zone. He finished 6-of-9 from the field, and poured in the free-throw line area shot most of the game.
The big man played 33 minutes off the bench and tied for the team lead in scoring with Vander Blue.
Brandon Triche with the Give and Pop
Brandon Triche is the hardest Syracuse player to watch.
He has times where he's unstoppable, and other times where he looks like a freshman again.
The senior played up to his designation on Saturday night.
He didn't shoot the ball well from the field (3-of-10, 1-of-5 from three), but the lone three-pointer he hit in the first half put Syracuse up 13 over Marquette.
And it was a thing of beauty if you like transition three-pointers.
When Triche and Michael Carter-Williams are both clicking on offense and defense, this Syracuse team is hard to contain.
LaQuinton Ross Drives and Scores
LaQuinton Ross was the hero for Ohio State in the big win over Arizona.
He didn't have quite the game against Wichita State that he did against the Wildcats, but plays like this one remind you why this kid is a highly-touted prospect that should take on a bigger role next season for Thad Matta.
He drove right, got the layup and the foul against Ron Baker in this highlight, helping to keep Ohio State close enough to make a late push on Saturday night.
James Southerland with the And-One
James Southerland is known for his three-point shooting prowess
But against Marquette, he also attacked the rim and helped Syracuse grab a commanding lead in the second half.
Southerland took the pass from teammate Michael Carter-Williams in transition before attacking the left block, changing hands to his right and finishing over Junior Cadougan, who was called for the blocking foul in the process.
The senior forward had a team-high 16 points against Marquette, but none were more athletic or emotional than this and-one. It gave Syracuse a 10-point lead after the free-throw and helped the Orange pull away down the stretch of the game.
Van Vleet Steps Up Again
The biggest highlight of the Elite Eight so far belongs to the freshman guard, after he already came on this list with a big second-half three to help down Ohio State.
With the Shockers fluttering late and Ohio State making a final push, Van Vleet attacked the paint and came up with this miracle shot to help down the Buckeyes on Saturday night.
It wasn't a buzzer-beater or a deep three, but this shot was the main reason why Ohio State didn't have enough offense late to complete a near 20-point comeback. Look for this freshman guard to get plenty of press in the coming days.
And he deserves it.
The Shockers are in the Final Four, and continue to make history.
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