DAYTON, Ohio - Sunday's game will forever be remembered for the big shot that Aaron Craft hit with less than a second left but a huge defensive play by Deshaun Thomas made everything possible and it will be forgotten by many fans by the time the Buckeyes suit up again on Thursday evening.
Iowa State's Melvin Ejim tried to force a pass that looked very familiar to the Buckeyes and Thomas was able to step into the path and make what arguably would be the best defensive play of his career with less than a minute left as the game was tied at 75-all.
"It was a great defensive stop and I noticed that I was on 31 (Georges Niang), and they have been running that play all of the game and they scored four points off of it so I was like, 'I know they are going to run this play,' and they ran it and I saw the guy go up and I just went over there and got the steal and Sam (Thompson) caught it," an elated Thomas said after the game on Sunday.
It was an ironic type of afternoon for the Buckeyes where the team's best offensive player made the biggest defensive play of the game and the team's best defensive player made the biggest offensive play of the game. Thomas admitted that when he got to Ohio State that he was not very keen on playing defense but now the third year player gets a lot of joy in defensive production.
"It is not what I am known for but my years of being here, I take (pride) in defense and I work really hard on it and I am going to remember that stop for a long time," Thomas added.
And of course that set up the memorable shot by Craft with .5 seconds left. The original play was drawn up to go to Thomas but the play was switched as Niang was out on Craft and the rest is history. On a previous rebound by Thomas, he cramped up and needed attention of the trainers during a timeout and nobody was happier than DT that Craft was able to end it in regulation.
"I didn't want to go to overtime, especially after I caught a cramp and everything," Thomas said. "I want to get this game over with and Craft ended it for us. "
In Ohio State's 2012 run the Buckeyes had a tough Round of 32 matchup with the Gonzaga Bulldogs where the No. 7 seed erased a 10 point Ohio State lead and forced the Buckeyes to come on late to eventually win the game 73-66. And of course we know that the Buckeyes made the Final Four that season. Where does this one rank compared to the 2012 game that Thomas was a part of?
"I think this one was better, we were trading baskets and at one point there were up and there was like a minute to go and we were like, 'we have got to get a stop' and this is one memorable game, especially with that big shot that Aaron hit," Thomas said.
The Buckeyes are back in action on Thursday evening and will tip-off with the No. 6 seeded Arizona Wildcats at 7:47pm (EDT) and TBS will have the broadcast.