warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Day 1: Buckeyes, Gators Advance

Johnie Freatman |
March 22, 2012 | 11:21 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

In Thursday's late games, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Florida Gators emerged victorious in their respective games and will advance to the Elite Eight.

Behind a strong 2nd half from Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes are moving on to the Sweet 16. (Eleven Warriors, Creative Commons)
Behind a strong 2nd half from Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes are moving on to the Sweet 16. (Eleven Warriors, Creative Commons)

Ohio State 81, Cincinnati 66

Dynamic Duo - Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas were a lethal inside-outside combination Thursday night, with Thomas contributing 26 points (including 20 in the first half) and Sullinger controlling the paint on the way to 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Crafty Contributor - Though he was held scoreless in the first half, point guard Aaron Craft was a pivotal contributor for the Buckeyes, finishing with 11 points and six assists. In addition to running the Buckeyes offense, Craft stymied the Cincinnati guards on the defensive end. He had five steals and provided pesky defense that prevented the Bearcats guards from getting comfortable.

Game of Runs - Though Ohio State played a very strong first half to take a 12-point lead into halftime, Cincinnati opened the second half on a 16-4 run to tie the game. The Bearcats eventually took a 52-48 lead, but the Buckeyes subsequently went on a 17-1 run to seal the game.

Party in the O-H-I-O - Joined by Xavier and Ohio, Ohio State and Cincinnati were two of four teams from the state of Ohio to qualify for the Sweet 16. Despite being only about 100 miles apart, this was just the second time these two teams have met since the 1962 national championship game.

Clawing Cats - Cincinnati came up short, but this was their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2001, a fact made all the more improbable considering the ugly December 10 brawl against Xavier that resulted in lengthy suspensions for Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj.

Florida 68, Marquette 58

Freshman Phenom - The difference-maker was Bradley Beal, Florida’s sharpshooting freshman who poured in 21 points on an efficient 8-10 shooting. Beal showed an impressive inside-outside game and did a little bit of everything, adding six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. He provided the game’s exclamation point with a dunk for the last points of the game.

Defense Wins Championships? - Marquette did miss some open jump shots but a lot of credit has to be given to the smothering defense of Florida, which held the Golden Eagles to only 31 percent shooting. Marquette’s 58 points, 18 less than Marquette’s season average, marks the first time a team has topped the 50-point barrier against the Gators in this year’s tournament.

Feeling Blue - Though multiple Marquette players were held under their season scoring average, Vander Blue had a particularly difficult night. Averaging nearly nine points per game entering the contest, he could only muster four points on 1-8 shooting, including multiple missed open three-point attempts.

“Billy The Kid” Brings Them Back - After a three-year drought, this is the second straight year coach Billy Donovan has led Florida to an Elite Eight. They fell to Butler in a close game last year, but Donovan has plenty of Tournament success to build on, including a championship appearance in 2000 and back-to-back titles in 2006 and ’07.

Teacher vs. Pupil - The Florida win, combined with a victory by the Lousiville Cardinals earlier in the evening, sets up a matchup between Donovan and Rick Pitino, the head coach of Louisville and Donovan’s head coach and mentor during his time playing at Providence. Donovan famously went against Pitino’s advice and quit a job on Wall Street to be one of his assistant coaches. Though the Gators coach has one more title than his mentor, Pitino is 6-0 in games coached against Donovan. With a trip to the Final Four on the line, will Saturday be the day that changes?

Reach Johnie by email, or follow him on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.