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.
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.
Craft held the ball until he had no other choice, then swished a 3-pointer with a half-second left Sunday for a 78-75 victory over Iowa State, sending the Buckeyes to a school-record fourth straight trip to the round of 16.
No. 2 Ohio State escaped as the lone high seed left in the West Regional — the NCAA tournament’s most-busted bracket.
“The moment’s a lot bigger than me,” said Craft, who had allowed 10th-seeded Iowa State (23-12) 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 yet another upset in the oh-so-wild West Regional. 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 on Thursday against sixth-seeded Arizona.
“With all that’s gone on in college basketball, anything’s possible,” Craft said. “You can see it with what’s gone on in our bracket right now.”
LA SALLE 76, MISSISSIPPI 74: Tyrone Garland banked home a scooping layup with 2 seconds left at Kansas City, Mo., vaulting the 13th-seeded Explorers to their deepest run in the NCAA tournament since they played for the championship in 1955.
Ramon Galloway had 24 points for La Salle (24-9).
No. 12 Ole Miss (27-9) led 74-72 with 1:58 left. After Tyreek Duren’s two foul shots tied it, Marshall Henderson failed to hit an off-balance bank shot that would have given Mississippi the lead.
La Salle is coached by fomer Maine coach John Giannini.
DUKE 66, CREIGHTON 50: Rasheed Sulaimon scored 21 points, Seth Curry added 17 and the second-seeded Blue Devils (29-5) held off the seventh-seeded Bluejays (28-8) at Philadelphia.