Saturday, December 22, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Kansas 74, Ohio State 66
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick thoughts following a 74-66 victory for Kansas in a top-10 showdown against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at Value City Arena.
Overview: The venue apparently doesn’t make any difference. Kansas has the formula for beating Ohio State anywhere the programs play.
After beating OSU at home during the regular season a year ago and in a neutral building at the Final Four, the Jayhawks and coach Bill Self continued their mastery in the series between the top-10 programs by completing the trifecta with a convincing win in Columbus, the team's first true road game of the season.
The victory keeps the hot streak rolling for the No. 9 Jayhawks, which have won nine straight and are rounding into a dangerous contender with their blend of veteran talent and a precocious young scorer in Ben McLemore. The redshirt freshman continued his national coming-out party with a dynamic offensive performance, leading Kansas with 22 points and making it look effortless at times.
The No. 7 Buckeyes weren’t able to counter with nearly as much consistency from their leading scorer, as Deshaun Thomas was flustered by extra defensive attention from Kansas and made only four shots from the field despite leading the team with 16 points.
While their defense makes them a tough out and a threat in the Big Ten, the Bucks have come up short against both ranked opponents they’ve faced this season after dropping a close decision at Duke last month.
Turning point: After it closed the deficit to a one-possession game and got the vocal home crowd back on its feet, Ohio State’s momentum and the noise disappeared almost right away. Turning to one of its veterans instead of a high-scoring freshman, Kansas delivered a dagger with a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Travis Releford with just more than 8 minutes to play in the second half.
The Jayhawks would go on an 8-0 run shortly after that deep bomb, and Ohio State didn’t have the firepower to rally down the stretch.
Key player: The star was already on the rise, but McLemore confirmed he belongs in the conversation among the best scorers in the country by answering the biggest challenge of his young career.
McLemore was a threat from all over the court, knocking down open 3-pointers on the outside and putting back offensive rebounds on the inside to keep Kansas afloat against Ohio State’s stingy defense. It hardly seemed to matter whom the Buckeyes used to try to slow him down. McLemore used his athleticism to get in productive spots and convert.
Key stat: Just like they were late against Kansas in the Final Four and in their last big test against Duke, the Buckeyes were undone by spotty shooting on the perimeter in the second half, which spoiled an otherwise solid defensive outing. After hitting just less than 50 percent of its attempts in a competitive first half, OSU made just one of its first 13 attempts from 3-point range after coming back out of the locker room as the Jayhawks pulled away. Ohio State wound up shooting 26 percent from beyond the arc and couldn’t keep pace down the stretch.
Miscellaneous: Coach Thad Matta dropped to 76-3 in his career at Ohio State against nonconference opponents at home. ... The Buckeyes had a 39-game winning streak at home against non-Big Ten teams snapped. The last team to knock off the Bucks on their home floor was West Virginia on Dec. 27, 2008. ... Kansas leads the all-time series with Ohio State 8-3.
Next up: The Buckeyes wrap up play outside the conference with one final tuneup against Chicago State next weekend before opening up Big Ten action with a home date against Nebraska on Jan. 2. The Jayhawks return home for nonconference meetings with American and Temple over the next two weeks before starting league play against Iowa State on Jan. 9.