- Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- Quick reaction to Wichita State’s 70-66 victory over Ohio State in the Elite Eight at Staples Center on Saturday night:
Overview: Ohio State entered the game riding an 11-game winning streak. The second-seeded Buckeyes hadn’t lost since mid-February. But they were tense early. And Wichita State exploited their struggles.
Midway through the first half, the ninth-seeded Shockers launched a 12-2 run that ended with Demetric Williams' 3-pointer with 6:28 remaining in the half. Wichita State, the underdog, expanded its lead the rest of the way. The Missouri Valley Conference standout entered halftime with a 35-22 advantage.
The Buckeyes shot 2-for-10 from the 3-point line in the first half after entering the game shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. Deshaun Thomas shot 4-for-13 in the first half and missed all five 3-point attempts before the break.
With 12:28 to go, Wichita State led 51-31. That’s no typo. But the Buckeyes kept fighting. With 8:22 on the game clock, they had cut the deficit to 13 points (56-43).
It didn’t help that Cleanthony Early suffered an ankle injury midway through the second half. But Early returned a few minutes later, and the Shockers continued to battle.
Fred Van Vleet's three-point play with 7:03 to go gave the Shockers a 60-46 lead.
The Buckeyes had opportunities to cut Wichita State’s lead to single digits with the clock ticking down past the six-minute mark, but they couldn't do so until Thomas scored on a putback after a Carl Hall turnover. Wichita State 60, Ohio State 52.
Ron Baker hit a pair of free throws that allowed Wichita State to regain a double-digit lead with just less than four minutes to play; a LaQuinton Ross 3-pointer on OSU’s next possession cut the Shockers’ lead to seven. Ross forced a turnover that eventually led to a pair of free throws with 3:13 to play. He made both, and the Buckeyes were down just five.
A Van Vleet offensive foul call gave the Buckeyes another possession. Shannon Scott hit two free throws with 2:45 to play. Wichita State 62, Ohio State 59.
A huge Tekele Cotton 3-pointer extended the lead; Thomas answered with a lay-in.
With 2:07 to go, the same Wichita State that had a 20-point lead early in the second half was up just 65-61.
Van Vleet’s bucket with 59 seconds to go, a drive and a drop, was huge. Ohio State missed on the other end, and Baker went to the free throw line with 51.3 seconds to play and the Shockers nursing a 67-61 lead. He made both.
Wichita State 69, Ohio State 61.
The Buckeyes failed to convert on a series of chances until Aaron Craft's 3-pointer gave Ohio State one final slice of hope. Wichita State led 70-66 with 6.8 seconds to play. Cotton took the next inbounds and drew a foul but missed the free throw. Craft put up a 3-pointer on the other end that didn’t fall.
Game over. Wow.
Turning point: When the Buckeyes (29-8) finally started making shots in the second half. They were 8-for-33 in the first half. Couldn’t get much worse. Midway through the second half -- as Thomas began to take smarter shots -- Ohio State began to play like the team that won the Big Ten tournament title in Chicago two weeks ago. But Wichita State was just too strong in the end.
Star of the game: Malcolm Armstead, a transfer from Oregon, finished the game with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Stat of the game: Ohio State went 5-for-25 from the 3-point line. The Buckeyes had shot 50 percent from beyond the arc in three previous tourney games.
Up next: Wichita State (30-8) will face the winner of Sunday's meeting between Louisville and Duke next Saturday in Atlanta.