Ohio State and Arizona square off in West Regional action

Mar 21, 2015 - 2:31 PM Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - It is a case of student versus teacher once more as Sean Miller and his Arizona Wildcats take on Thad Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center on Saturday.

Miller, who spent time under Matta at Xavier (2001-04) before taking over the Musketeers and eventually moving out to the desert, has his Wildcats on cruise control at the moment. The team has lost a total of just three times all season long and pummeled the rest of the Pac-12 Conference with 16 wins in 18 chances.

After flying through the conference tournament with wins of California, UCLA and Oregon, second-seeded Arizona then whipped up on Texas Southern in the second round of the West Regional on Thursday, coming away with a convincing 93-72 triumph. With the win Arizona, which won it all in 1997 in an overtime affair against Kentucky, is now 9-3 in the tournament under Miller.

As for the 10th-seeded Buckeyes, they were an up-and-down team all season long, but still managed to earn an at-large bid to the tournament, an event that they have now taken part in a total of 27 times and have a record of 49-25. This is actually the lowest the program has ever been seeded in the tournament, but that didn't stop it from producing a narrow 75-72 overtime victory against VCU in the second round two days ago.

Under Matta, OSU has a record of 18-8 in the tourney and is playing in the event for the seventh straight year.

These two teams last met in the 2013 NCAA West Regional Semifinal in California where the Buckeyes squeezed by in a 73-70 decision on a late 3- pointer by LaQuinton Ross, giving OSU a second win in as many meetings between the programs.

This time around the winner will land in the round of 16, with the survivor of the Georgia State/Xavier meeting next on the docket.

D'Angelo Russell, who took an elbow to the head near the end of regulation on Thursday, led everyone with 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-7 behind the 3-point line, as the Buckeyes survived in overtime against the Rams in Portland. Russell added six rebounds and a pair of steals to his stat line as he played 44 minutes into the crucial contest. Also putting up double figures were Amir Williams and Jae'Sean Tate with 13 and 12 points, respectively, the latter also pulling down eight rebounds.

Recognized as one of the top performers not only in the Big Ten Conference but the entire nation, Russell, is averaging 19.6 ppg as he converts 42.0 percent of his 3-point tries. He is also responsible for a team-best 5.6 rpg and takes second in both assists (169) and steals (55) behind only Shannon Scott (8.9 ppg) who has piled up 206 dishes and 58 thefts in his 34 starts. Same Thompson pitches in with 10.0 ppg, but clearly Russell is the star of the show and the Buckeyes will go only as far as he is able to take them.

Five players scored in double figures for the Wildcats during their romp over Texas Southern in their first game of the tournament on Thursday, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson putting up 16 of his game-high 23 points in the first half alone. Stanley Johnson was credited with 22 points, shooting 4-of-5 behind the 3-point line, followed by Brandon Ashley (14 points), Kaleb Tarczewski (13) and T.J. McConnell (12) as the unit hit on 60.4 percent from the field.

For the season, Arizona has been hitting field goals at a 49.3 percent clip, which is considerably better than the 39.4 percent effort put forth by opponents who are being limited to just 59.0 ppg. Johnson checks in with 14.3 ppg, Ashley another 12.4 ppg and Hollis-Jefferson 11.3 ppg, but those numbers would not be possible if not for the efforts of McConnell (9.9 ppg) who has notched 222 assists, giving him better than three times as many dishes than turnovers (70) for a program that is posting 76.9 ppg and is beating foes on the glass by nine rebounds per contest.

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