CLEVELAND - In a matter of minutes, Ohio State's Aaron Craft went from object of scorn to top of the world.
As the final 29 seconds ticked down with the score tied at 75, Craft held the Buckeyes' hopes in his hands. He waited, waved off Deshaun Thomas, then left with plenty of space from Iowa State defender Georges Niang, pulled up and calmly nailed the game-winning three.
The end of Ohio State's 78-75 victory over Iowa State was all about the erratic yet enigmatic Craft. He first helped fuel Iowa State's comeback then catapulted his team to victory.
With just under six minutes remaining, another trip to the Sweet 16 seemed all but certain for the Buckeyes, in control with a double-digit lead.
Then Craft's game went awry. A turnover, missed layup and two consecutive missed front ends of one-and-ones at the free throw line all from Craft, and in a few blinks, Iowa State had tied the game at 69.
Seconds later, he atoned for himself, driving to the lane and drawing contact while making a layup to give the Buckeyes the lead.
But volatile only begins to describe Craft's role in Sunday's Round of 32 contest.
He became the centerpiece of controversy as he took position in the paint, his heel appearing to ever-tenuously hover over the restricted area as Melvin Ejim bowled over him. Ejim was called for the offensive foul even though, according to the rule book, Craft's charge could have been argued a block.
Disputing calls is not worth the time though. Plenty were missed both ways throughout the course of the affair in Dayton.
What will ultimately be remembered is Craft's moxie. A possession after he missed a jumper just inside the three-point line, he keeps the ball in his hands and wins it.
Craft did a lot that could have sent Ohio State home but when push came to shove, he wouldn't let them. Despite his offensive shortcomings, his shot was undeniably pure in the biggest moment.
When One Shining Moment plays after a champion is crowned, we won't see Craft's late-game blunders. You can be sure though that we will see his swagger-filled shot that stymied the Cyclones.
Who knows - thanks to Craft it may even be the Buckeyes who are celebrating that Monday night in Atlanta.
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