Aaron Craft Hits The Biggest Shot Of The Tournament; James Harden Beats The Spurs

Sometimes an early test is all a top seed needs to get themselves going in March Madness (think Tyus Edney for UCLA in ’95). Ohio State had theirs yesterday against Iowa State, and are still alive because they have one of the best leaders in college basketball … Opinions vary on Aaron Craft‘s NBA potential — ask scouts to map it out and the results will probably look like a polygraph test. But he used his jump shot to beat No. 10 Iowa State yesterday, swishing a three-pointer with half a second left to win it for the No. 2 Buckeyes, 78-75. It capped a wild final 10 minutes for Ohio State’s point guard. He missed a bunch of free throws (including multiple front ends of one-and-ones), a few layups and shots in the lane, and even dribbled out of bounds off his leg once. Craft also drew a charge call that took away a huge three-point play from Iowa State. You could argue that ultimately decided the game, especially after replays showed the refs forgot their contact lenses for this one. Not only was his foot hovering along the restricted area’s line, but Craft (18 points, six assists) came over after the offensive player had already jumped into the air. Once again — for maybe the 52nd time — the charge call sucks, especially if we are rewarding defenders for undercutting offensive players. Just get rid of it …The game had more than 15 lead changes, but the Cyclones had erased a 13-point deficit and were poised to steal this one if it had been allowed to go into overtime … With around two minutes left in No. 1 Indiana’s 58-52 survival against No. 9 Temple, and with the Owls up two, Christian Watford made what was probably a game-saving play by snatching Anthony Lee‘s cookies from behind right at the rim. The block resulted in two freebies on the other end from Cody Zeller (15 points, six rebounds) to tie it at 52. Despite ending the game on a 10-0 run, Indiana didn’t exactly set the world on fire, and Temple was even worse in crunch time. First there was that block from Watford. Then Khalif Wyatt (31 points, scoring 20 of his team’s first 24 points) missed a wide open three-ball. Then, Temple came up with all air on their last shot attempt. That’s all Victor Oladipo (16 points, eight boards) needed to drive the knife in, canning a triple from the top of the arc to basically end it … What’s up with Tom Crean stealing Steve Nash‘s haircut? Actually wait. It’s the other way around. And doesn’t Indiana’s Will Sheehey look exactly like Joey from Friends? … After rolling through the first 20 minutes half dead, Kansas started the second half of their 12-point win over UNC on a 33-10 run. Jeff Withey (16 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks) started attacking the rim with the wrath of God, and Travis Releford (22 points, eight boards) was pulling all types of stuff out of his ass: three-point plays off the bounce, spin moves, finishing fast breaks through contact with the ball on his hip. Even though Ben McLemore shot worse (0-for-9) than a blind guy, the Jayhawks bludgeoned North Carolina repeatedly in the second half … Florida is now 20-0 this year when they score 70-plus points, beating No. 11 Minnesota, 78-64 last night. Mike Rosario dropped 25 points, and Florida damn near shot the nets off (just under 57 percent for the game) … They’ll be taking on the boys from Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles pounded San Diego State during the second half of their 10-point W, becoming the first-ever No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16. Bernard Thompson, aka the next Harold Arceneaux, led all scorers with 23 … Tyrone Garland (17 points) dropped a bucket in the lane to lift No. 13 La Salle to the Sweet 16, 76-74 over Ole Miss and Marshall Henderson (15 three-pointers attempted) … Rion Brown (21 points) and Miami just got past Illinois, 63-59 … And Duke moved past Creighton with a 66-50 win … Hit page 2 to hear about who was repeatedly getting called fat in the NBA last night …

Before James Harden saved the game in the Rockets’ one-point win, Tony Parker (23 points) had a personal 10-0 run in the fourth quarter in Houston, and one of his final buckets was one of those shots where he probably got fouled, and had he missed it, Gregg Popovich might’ve stuffed him into a locker. TP was so good though that Patrick Beverley‘s body parts are still being uncovered among the ruins in the Target Center. On the other side, Houston’s offense was basically “throw it to James, and have him flail around in an attempt to draw fouls.” It worked — he finished with 29 points, 17 free throw attempts and nine rebounds. Even on his jumper to put them up one with 4.5 seconds left, he very nearly drew a foul. Tim Duncan (17 points) was short on a jumper on the other end to end it, Houston winning one of those playoff warm-up games that all young teams need … We felt bad for Boris Diaw last night. Clyde Drexler and the rest of Houston’s coverage was giving him the business. At one point, Clyde said, “I think he bulked up a little bit to play that position” and “he’s looking a little heavy in his pants.” Another time, James Harden was so far out of position defensively (he had actually gambled for a steal) that when Diaw got an open layup because of it, they all blamed his fat ass for shoving the Beard out of Texas … The Heat are master surgeons at this point, and know they can turn it off and on whenever they want. Take last night’s 109-77 beheading of Charlotte. The Bobcats jumped out early, high off energy, before Miami hit them with separate 31-6 and 26-5 runs to put them out of their misery for their 26th-straight win. LeBron James had another ho-hum night with 32 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and three missed shots. It didn’t even matter that Chris Bosh (15 points) and Dwyane Wade (didn’t play) combined for un-eventful nights … In other scores from Sunday: Milwaukee fell apart in the closing minute of their five-point loss to Atlanta. Al Horford (24 points) and Josh Smith (23 points, nine boards) pushed them closer to becoming Miami meat in the first round; Chicago took care of Minnesota by seven, and Nate Robinson finished with 22 points and 10 assists off the bench; OKC blew out Portland by 20 as Kevin Durant had 24 points and 10 boards; Mike James‘ (!) 19 points pushed Dallas past Utah, 113-108; Jrue Holiday had 21 points, 10 boards and seven assists as Philly took out Sacramento, 117-103; and Brooklyn beat Phoenix by two despite Goran Dragic (31 points, 12 assists, nine boards) playing one of the best games of his life … We’re out like the charge call.

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