By Matt McCoy
Solving a Rubik's Cube in seconds isn't Aaron Craft's only special gift
It's March 14th, or 3/14... Also known as "Pi day."
Most of us know Pi (the infinite number given to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter) as the number 3.14. But if you're the only three-time academic All-American in the history of Ohio State basketball, you know the number a lot more precisely than that.
Aaron Craft, well known for his ability to solve a Rubik's Cube in seconds (see video at bottom of blog) can also blow you away with his memory of the number Pi. The kid is one of a kind. Check out this video from Ohio State.
Another Close Game...But What Else Is New
Craft will try to celebrate "Pi Day" with a win over Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, after Ohio State survived a 63-61 nailbiter with Purdue.
"It's good to see us win one of these ugly games," Coach Thad Matta said. "We didn't play as well as we wanted to."
The Buckeyes won despite another poor shooting performance. They were 1-for-14 from 3-point range, shot just 35.9 percent from the floor and 64 percent from the free-throw line including key misses by Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. in the closing seconds that could have iced the game.
But the close, down to the wire ending has become the rule, not the exception lately for this Ohio State team.
It's the third time in four games a shot has been in the air in the final second that would determine Ohio State's fate. It started at Penn State when Lenzelle Smith's 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good in the Buckeyes 65-63 loss. Sunday, in the season finale against Michigan State, Gary Harris' game tying attempt at the buzzer was bounced off the front rim and then Thursday, Johnson's 3-pointer to win came up short as well.
Going even further, it's the seventh game this year when a shot has been in the air in the final seconds of regulation or overtime with the game in the balance. Ohio State has won four of those, and lost three.
At 46, Thad Matta is still a young coach but these close finishes have probably aged him like a dog. Here are Ohio State's last shot games.
December 21 vs Notre Dame--Ohio State rallied from eight down in the final two minutes to win 64-61 but survived a 3-point shot at the buzzer by Jerian Grant that would have forced overtime.
January 7 at Michigan State--This time a Buckeye rally from 17 down came up short, in a 72-68 overtime loss but at the end of regulation, with the game tied, Shannon Scott made a steal and drove to the basket but his contested lay-up bounced off the rim and was batted away at the buzzer allowing Sparty to survive.
January 29 vs. Penn State--A double-dose of buzzer activity in this one. After Penn State's D.J. Newbill tied the game with a 3-point with 11 seconds left, Ohio State had a last shot to win. Lenzelle Smith missed a jumper, Scott rebounded near the basket but his put-back was no good as the buzzer sounded. In overtime, Penn State beat the Buckeyes 71-70 when Newbill slashed a jumper over Aaron Craft with two seconds left.
February 1 at Wisconsin--Leading by one in the final seconds, Lenzelle Smith was alone in the front court but missed a lay-up. He secured the rebound, only to be bumped by Amir Williams and when Smith fell to the floor a travel was called. It gave Wisconsin a chance to win but Sam Dekker's 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good and the Buckeyes survived 58-57.
February 27 at Penn State--Trailing by two after Penn State's Tim Frazier split two free-throws, the Buckeyes rushed the ball up the floor and Shannon Scott found Lenzelle Smith open on the wing for what could have been a game winning 3-pointer but the shot came up short and the Buckeyes lost 65-63.
March 9 vs Michigan State--The Buckeyes went 2-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 90 seconds, giving Michigan State several chances to win. Their final opportunity came after two foul-line misses by Sam Thompson but Gary Harris' jumper over Aaron Craft that could have tied it was no good. The Buckeyes won 69-67.
March 13 vs Purdue--The Buckeyes failed to secure a rebound on a missed free-throw with two seconds left, losing the ball out of bounds. It gave Purdue, trailing by two, one last shot to tie or win it. The Boilers went for the win but Terone Johnson's 3-pointer came up short. The Buckeyes won 65-63.
Rubik's Cube Video
You saw Craft's amazing Pi video about. Here's the YouTube video that became popular with Ohio State fans. It's Craft, before a game, solving a Rubik's Cube for a fan--then signing it for him. If you haven't seen it, check it out.