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Ohio State beats Iowa State in NCAA

Aaron Craft launches a 3-pointer that swishes through with a half-second left in the game, giving Ohio State a 78-75 victory over Iowa State and sending it to the Sweet 16.

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Aaron Craft launches a 3-pointer that swishes through with a half-second left in the game, giving Ohio State a 78-75 victory over Iowa State and sending it to the Sweet 16.

DAYTON, Ohio — Aaron Craft dribbled in place at the top of the arc, watching to see if any of his Ohio State teammates were getting open near the basket for a winning shot.

Nothing there.

The point guard had a clear look at the clock as it raced toward zero atop the backboard. He realized what he had to do: take a little history into his hands.

Craft held the ball until he had no choice, then swished a 3-pointer with a half-second left for a 78-75 victory Sunday over Iowa State, sending the Buckeyes to a school-record fourth straight trip to the Sweet 16.

No. 2 Ohio State had managed to escape as the lone high seed left in the NCAA Tournament's most-busted region.

"The moment's a lot bigger than me," said Craft, who had allowed Iowa State to catch up with missed free throws and an errant jumper. "It just happened to be in my hands at the end."

Ohio State (28-7) needed Craft's fearless shot — over 6-foot-7 defender Georges Niang — to avoid another upset in the wild West Region. Four of the top five seeds fell fast and hard in the first weekend.

The Buckeyes' 10th straight win sent them to Los Angeles for a game Thursday against sixth-seeded Arizona.

Tenth-seeded Iowa State (23-12) overcame a late 13-point deficit by hitting 3s, the Cyclones' specialty, but wound up beaten by one, a tough way for their upset bid to end.

"We played our hearts out," said Will Clyburn, who scored 17. "It was a tough game, and he made a tough shot. He made a great play."

Craft's missed free throws helped Iowa State catch up. He missed two one-and-one chances and was off on a jumper from just inside the arc with 29.2 seconds left and the score tied.

The Cyclones knocked the ball out of bounds while trying for the rebound, setting up the final chance. Coach Thad Matta called a timeout and went over the options.

"I told 'em, 'Hey, let's get the last shot; let's play for the win here,' " Matta said.

When the Cyclones switched coverages to take away leading scorer Deshaun Thomas and put their tall freshman on Craft, the point guard decided to take it himself.

"He had a tough shot," said Korie Lucious, who led Iowa State with 19 points. "He hadn't hit a 3 all game."

Officials reviewed the play to confirm that Craft's foot was behind the arc when he shot. Lucious didn't come close on a long heave as the final half-second ran off.

Craft also drew a controversial charge on Iowa State's Melvin Ejim on the Cyclones' last significant possession, sliding under the forward as he drove and made the basket, which would've put Iowa State ahead by two.

John Adams, the NCAA's coordinator of officials, said in a statement that the official "determined Craft established legal guarding position." But in an interview with CBS after the game, Adams essentially said the official made an incorrect call.

LA SALLE 76, OLE MISS 74: Tyrone Garland banked home a scooping layup with two seconds left for the 13th-seeded Explorers in Kansas City, Mo., vaulting La Salle to its deepest NCAA run since it played for the championship in 1955.

Ramon Galloway had 24 points for La Salle (24-9), which was playing its third game in five days. The No. 12 Rebels (27-9) led 74-72 with 1:58 left but failed to reach their first region semifinal since 2001.

After Tyreek Duren's two free throws tied it at 74 with 1:07 left, guard Marshall Henderson failed to hit an off-balance bank shot that would have given Mississippi the lead.

Henderson had 21 points in a game that had 11 lead changes.

Ohio State beats Iowa State in NCAA 03/24/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 12:08am]

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