Aaron Craft for a moment looked as if he would let the clock, and the game, slip away from the Ohio State Buckeyes.
With time winding down in the team’s game against Iowa State and the score tied at 75, Craft had the ball in his hands in isolation at the top of they key. As the clock ticked below 15 seconds, then 10, he waited. And waited. And waited.
Then as there were just a few seconds left, Aaron Craft faked as he if was going to the rim then took a half step back and launched a three-pointer over the outstretched arms of Georges Niang. It breezed through the net with 0.5 seconds as Craft held his hand high in follow-through.
The Buckeyes were on to the Sweet Sixteen with a 78-75 victory, and Aaron Craft was the talk of the tournament.
Nevermind that Craft helped Iowa State sneak back into the game by committing some key turnovers and missing the front end of two one-and-ones down the stretch, his game-winning shot made him the talk of the sports world. USA Today wrote a feature about the shot, including a gif that showed a loop of him nailing it again and again. His name became a trending term on Google.
ESPN called Craft a gutsy — if possibly foolish — player for looking off teammate Deshaun Thomas on the play, passing up one of the nation’s best shooters to call his own number.
“Aaron, the player that he is, he knew that shot was going in before he shot it, because he told himself it was going in,” said teammate Lenzelle Smith. “Then he stepped up and knocked it down.”
The play may have looked unconventional, and may have gotten Aaron Craft in the doghouse if he missed the shot, but he didn’t. And now the Buckeyes are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen with a path to the Final Four neatly paved out — the highest remaining team in their region is No. 6 Arizona, their next opponent.