The view of Gonzaga’s 90-84 NCAA second-round win over Ohio State was better for the television audience, though many things they saw might have been better avoided. Except, maybe, the final six minutes of the game Saturday night.
What they saw …
CBS and the NCAA heard complaints on social media and elsewhere after Thursday’s opening-round games from Boise’s Taco Bell Arena, based on the height of the main, midcourt camera. The players seemed small compared to usual view.
And, as hard as it may be to believe, they acted.
Seats were cleaned out – the 60 people who were moved closer to the action also received $20 concession credit – and the camera lowered a level. Which made it easier to see one of the more-overofficiated games of the season.
And, according to Brian Anderson, doing the play-by-play, and analyst Chris Webber, one of the better-played games of the season.
Which is a bit surprising, considering Terry Oglesby, Gerry Pollard and Lee Cassell, the guys with the whistles, used them to call 46 fouls.
Flow? There was none.
Though at first there was, as Gonzaga, which defeated Ohio State by 27 in their November PK80 meeting, jumped out to a 15-0 lead. The Buckeyes (25-9) struggled to guard Zach Norvell outside and Johnathan Williams and Rui Hachimura inside.
The former never changed – Norvell finished with a game-high 28 points, including a 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 17 seconds left that gave Gonzaga a 76-69 lead and made Webber ask, rhetorically, “How about the difficulty of that shot?”
The latter did, for a while, as Williams, Hachimura and Killian Tillie, who were controlling the inside, sat extended minutes after picking up a couple of hard-to-fathom fouls.
Pollard, who works mostly SEC games, called both of Tillie’s and Hachimura’s second of the first half, both over-the-back fouls which replay showed didn’t include contact.
With the GU bigs in foul trouble – Jeremy Jones and Jacob Larsen both played inside in the first half – the 13th-ranked Buckeyes clawed back, and made a concerted run to open the second half.
The Zags (32-4 and headed to Los Angeles for the West Region’s Sweet 16) tried to protect their bigs coming out of halftime by playing zone, but that allowed Ohio State to heat up from outside. Within minutes the 11-point halftime lead was gone.
Ohio State led by five when Keita Bates-Diop hit a 3-pointer with 6 minutes left. But Norvell answered, part of an 11-0 run that was culminated by a shot-clock beating Hachimura 3-pointer.
“Rui Hachimura hit four 3-pointers all year,” Anderson exclaimed after the shot put GU up 73-67, “and he hits a desperation 3 at the end of the shot clock to give them a six-point lead.”
“The big fella stepping up,” Webber added as the CBS cameras caught one of Hachimura’s trademark smiles.
What we saw …
We didn’t see Mark Few’s wife Marcy until there were eight minutes remaining, when sideline reporter Lisa Byington did a short report on her reactions Thursday night. At that point Ohio State was leading 62-58. From there, we saw Marcy Few off and on and the fourth-seeded Bulldogs outscored OSU by 10 points.
Coincidence? Sure, but there was a correlation between Hachimura’s 25-point, five rebound, four-block performance and Gonzaga’s victory.
The most impressive of the four blocks came with 1:55 left as Bates-Diop drove for what seemed to be a lead-cutting layup.
Hachimura rose up – replays showed his head above the rim – and tossed the ball into the corner, where Norvell ran it down and was fouled.
Norvell hit both free throws – after starting the game missing 10 of 14, Gonzaga hit 15 of its final 17 – to help clinch the win.
There were a couple of anxious moments, though, including one courtesy of a missed replay review.
With about 30 seconds left, the Buckeyes knocked the ball away from Hachimura and it was batted out of bounds. The officials ruled it went off Norvell, but they went to replay. So did CBS.
Anderson and Webber watched. They agreed. The ball seemed to have been last touched by OSU’s Andrew Dakich, as a slow-motion replay showed his fingertips altering the rotation of the ball. But, after a short review, the call stood.
“Wow, that’s going to stay the possession of Ohio State?” Anderson asked. “That’s a missed call.”
“I don’t know how you can miss it with the video,” he said.
Anderson took a breath and mentioned the Buckeyes were getting a much-needed break.
They received a few. But Hachimura, Norvell and Gonzaga made sure they didn’t make a difference.
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