KUAD Box Score, Recap, Quotes, Notes, Video
LJW Video and Audio pressers and post-game interviews
ESPN Recap, Video
Columbus Dispatch Photos
KC Star Photos
I hear the rock chalk chant inside the Value City arena #kubball
Elijah Johnson sees Saturday’s eight-point victory at No. 7-ranked Ohio State as an early-season statement game.
“(It was) real big,” Kansas University’s senior point guard said of the 74-66 win before 19,049 fans in Value City Arena. “Now we know we’ve got the same kind of team we’ve always had. We will fight back. We will not lay down for anybody.”
The venue apparently doesn’t make any difference. Kansas has the formula for beating Ohio State anywhere the programs play.
…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.
…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.
Bill Self stood deep inside the bowels of Value City Arena, around the corner from the Kansas locker room, just a few feet away from his latest basketball gift.
It was nearly 30 minutes after Kansas’ 74-66 victory over No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday evening, a signature win for a team that needed to experience a little fire. But for a moment, Self couldn’t stop talking about his gift — all 6 feet 5 and 195 pounds of him.
Ben McLemore stood just a few feet away, wearing Kansas warmups, fresh off a 22-point performance in front of a packed house in his first ever road game.
“My first time,” McLemore said.
The ninth-ranked Jayhawks won for many reasons on Saturday. Senior guard Travis Releford shut down Ohio State leading scorer Deshaun Thomas. Senior Jeff Withey had another double-double.
And the Jayhawks played tough — the kind of toughness that Self demands.
But when McLemore’s name came up, Self flashed a sly little smile. And then shook his head for emphasis.
“I’ve never had anybody like this guy,” he said.
…All week, Self wondered how his team would respond to this atmosphere. Would they have a tight huddle? This would be a test, he said. A real test.
Kansas was entering hostile territory for the first time. They were playing a ranked squad, a tough and physical Big Ten team. And maybe — just maybe — Self could learn something. That opportunity came midway through the first half, when Ohio State rolled off 14 straight points and took a 31-23 lead. The red-tinted arena came to life. And Self needed two timeouts to calm his squad.
Self, though, didn’t have to say much.
“We have a good group of vets,” Withey said. “We’ve been in tough situations before. And we just bounced back.”
The offensive skills are just as good on the road.
So Ben McLemore just might use them to drive Kansas right back to the Final Four.
Despite dealing with some nerves as he stepped out on the floor at Value City Arena for his first true road test against a top-10 opponent, the redshirt freshman needed less than a minute to shake them off and hit his first shot, setting the tone for another dynamic outing as the No. 9 Jayhawks once again knocked off No. 7 Ohio State with a 74-66 win on Saturday afternoon.
And while there were plenty of familiar faces in a lineup that won two high-profile matchups with the Buckeyes a season ago, it was one that didn’t appear in last spring's national semifinal featuring these programs that had Kansas looking more than capable of a return trip in a few months.
“You know, it was my first time playing an away game and stuff like that, playing in front of this type of crowd,” McLemore said. “At first I was a little nervous, but you know, that’s what happens when you play your first game away. Going up and down the court a little bit, I just played my game, stayed with intensity and tried to play my game.
“This experience was great.”
Moved Ben McLemore into the Top 5 on our Big Board. Best NBA prospect KU's had since Paul Pierce.
Things I learned today. There are three constants in life --- death, taxes, and Bill Self.
Kansas has a terrific collection of players around McLemore, including three seniors who are either excellent (point guard Elijah Johnson) or dominant (center Jeff Withey, small forward Travis Releford) on defense.
Those guys could leave McLemore back in the dorm the next 2½ months and still go win another Big 12 championship. Having him grow into the focal point of their offense, however, will allow Kansas to seriously take a swing at winning the school’s fourth NCAA title. He must function as a star-level player in the circumstances that require the signature of a star.
“To be honest with you, you don’t score off of plays late in games. You score off of players,” Self said. “We did a better job today. They played good defense, so you beat a guy, force help and go get a basket.
“He makes plays you can’t coach. You run average offense, pitch it to him and he jumps over someone and he makes a shot. That’s not great offense. That’s just a good player. That’s what I like.”
The honest truth about the Ohio State game is that McLemore’s partner on the wing played the greatest role in KU’s victory. Although McLemore led KU in scoring and hit 3-of-6 from 3-point range, Releford was the one responsible for eliminating Buckeyes’ star Deshaun Thomas in the second half.
Senior guard Travis Releford, with a little inside help from center Jeff Withey, was able to frustrate Ohio State leading scorer Deshaun Thomas.
“You could see it,” Releford said. “Not just in him, you could see it in the team; their coaches; throughout the bench.”
Kansas coach Bill Self devised a pretty simple plan for defending Ohio State leading scorer Deshaun Thomas. Step one: Put senior guard Travis Releford, a lockdown defender, on Thomas, a powerful 6-7 forward with touch from the outside. Step two: Send center Jeff Withey over to trap if Thomas came down into the post.
The plan was mostly successful as KU took down Ohio State 74-66 at Value City Arena in Columbus. Thomas finished with just 16 points — four under his season average — and made just four of his 11 shots.
“I wasn’t really worried about him taking me inside, because I’m kind of strong myself,” Releford said. “And then I had Jeff behind me to help out and eliminate him posting me up. So coming into the game, I wasn’t too worried about that. I was just more focused on making him take tough shots and making him force a lot of shots.”
Kansas University senior Travis Releford stuck to preseason All-American Deshaun Thomas like wrapping paper on a Christmas present Saturday afternoon in Value City Arena.
He held the 6-foot-7, 215-pound junior sensation to 16 points off miserable 4-of-11 shooting in the No. 9-ranked Jayhawks’ 74-66 victory over the No. 7-rated Buckeyes.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Releford’s inspired defense seemed to break the spirit of the Buckeyes of the Big Ten, who hit just 25 percent of their shots the final half, going just two-of-18 from three.
Just like he did a year ago in Lawrence, Kevin Young subbed in and changed the tempo of the game with a resounding dunk and-one that lifted Kansas.
“Kevin started it,” Jeff Withey said. “He got fouled a couple of times and it slowed everything down. We just bounced back.”
In those last six minutes Kansas came back with a 12-4 run and took a 37-35 lead into halftime.
Led by Young’s pace-changing presence, and aided by Ben McLemore’s aerial acrobatics, the Jayhawks began trading shots with the Buckeyes and came out ahead.
McLemore finished with 22 points and Young with six, but Young may have had the more valuable buckets. He helped Kansas claw back into contention when another two or three misfires would have put Kansas in its most vulnerable position all year.
“Kevin had a three-point play and we got a couple stops,” Self said of Kansas’ battling back. “That gave us as much confidence as anything,”
After the stars had realigned for Kansas, life went back to normal.
The Jayhawks took a lead with 13:31 left in the second half and never gave it up.
And a new streak begins.
Dec. 25 can’t come soon enough for Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta.
“I asked Santa for Christmas to improve our jump-shooting,” Matta said with a wry smile following OSU’s 74-66 loss to Kansas University on Saturday afternoon.
The Buckeyes kept their turnovers down (13) and performed well on the offensive glass (17 offensive boards) but simply couldn’t overcome a poor shooting night.
OSU made just 20 of 65 field goals for a frigid 31 percent.
“You gotta put the ball in the basket in a game like this,” Matta said. “We couldn’t do it, and it became contagious throughout.”
“I think we just slowed them down. That’s the main thing (coach) wanted us to do was slow them down in transition,” McLemore said.
In the second half, when the Jayhawks found their lead fluttering between one and two possessions, McLemore found his own way to stall the Buckeyes, by taking over the game.
First he slowed their momentum by driving to the hole and drawing a foul.
“He puts his head down and attacks the basket,” senior guard Travis Releford said. “Sometimes he gets fouled or he creates something for Jeff or Kevin to make easy baskets, so he put a lot of pressure on the defense.”
The Jayhawks next trip down the court, following a miss from Ohio State guard Aaron Craft, McLemore nailed a jump shot.
And he put the exclamation point on his mini-run by slamming home the alley-oop pass from Johnson, extending the lead to double-digits with 5:22 left in the game.
“He’s fun to coach because you can tinker around and draw up some plays that you can’t draw up for anybody else and just throw it up there,” Self said.
There were plenty who said that the St. Louis native would never become a go-to guy, that he didn't possess the personality and the desire to be the top option. This was a guy who took a back seat to Brad Beal in the summers, but he's quickly matured and begun to understand that his talent stacks up with just about anyone in the country. McLemore is ultra-athletic. He's got a natural position as a two-guard -- and he shoots it with more consistency than many ever gave him credit (McLemore came into the game shooting 40 percent from 3 and wound up making 3-of-6 from deep against Ohio State).
With McLemore's emergence, it's allowed Elijah Johnson to be who he is -- a solid point guard. It's enabled Releford to be who he is -- a role guy whose most valuable attribute is his ability to defend. Self now has a big man in Withey who has begun to gain confidence on the offensive end, and is arguably the most dominant defensive presence in the entire country.
Kansas has multiple options. Ohio State basically has one -- and that's a major reason why the Jayhawks went into Columbus and came away with a 74-66 victory.
McLemore’s defensive improvement has kept pace with his scoring. Lenzelle Smith Jr., McLemore’s primary assignment Saturday, scored six points, five-and-a-half below his average.
“He tries so hard,” said Releford, the team’s top perimeter defender. “When we watch tape, coach shows every little detail for the team. And all the little stuff, it counts. It helps us out a lot.”
Predictably, the first hostile crowd didn’t derail McLemore. At all levels of basketball, the better the player, the less his game falls off away from home.
If recent dominant wins in Lawrence over Colorado, Richmond and Belmont showed Kansas would be tough to beat at home, then the Jayhawks' ability to outplay a fellow top 10 team on the road suggests they'll be pretty formidable anywhere. Kansas validated its status as one of the nation's elite teams, showcasing unselfish offense, stingy defense and an emerging go-to player.
Thanks to the shot-blocking presence of Withey in the paint and a bevy of formidable perimeter defenders, Kansas had not allowed a opponent to shoot 40 percent or higher from the field since its loss to Michigan State. The Jayhawks extended that streak with ease on Saturday, limiting Ohio State to a season-low 30.8 percent shooting from the floor and 8 of 31 from behind the 3-point line.
The concern for Ohio State entering the game was whether any other players could emerge as weapons if Kansas focused its defensive attention on slowing down prolific scorer DeShaun Thomas.
Shannon Scott complemented Thomas' 16 points with 15 of his own, but no other Buckeyes scored in double figures.
What Kansas' masterful performance emphasizes is the size of the gap between the Jayhawks and the rest of the Big 12.
At one point in the second half, coach Thad Matta said he turned to his assistants on the bench and said, “Hey, let’s call a play where we score.”
Unfortunately for Ohio State, and its first sellout crowd of the season, there weren’t many of those when the Buckeyes most needed them yesterday in Value City Arena.
It was déjà vu Duke for the seventh-ranked Buckeyes as they went more than 10 minutes of the second half without a field goal and lost for the second time this season, 74-66 to No. 9 Kansas.
It would be a mistake to say that Ohio State shot itself in the foot against Kansas, because it obviously would have missed.
The Buckeyes lost 74-66 because they put on an impressive display of poor shooting in the second half, missing open shot after open shot after open shot, much as they did in the only other high-profile game of the nonconference season, a 73-68 loss at Duke.
At one point in the second half, OSU was 2 of 17 from the floor and hadn’t scored a field goal in more than 10 minutes. It went 2 of 18 from three-point range after halftime, an indelible reminder that whatever offensive success this team achieves down the road likely will come from transition baskets created by good defense and not from its pure shooting skills.
Is this an overreaction? Maybe. This is what happens when the schedule has more clunkers than a junkyard. The Buckeyes have shot the basketball well at times, but you draw conclusions from good shooting displays against Albany, Savannah State or UNC Asheville at your own risk.
The basketball trilogy between Kansas and Ohio State has taken on a green-eggs-and-ham type of theme in the past 13 months.
The Jayhawks can beat the Buckeyes in Lawrence, Kan., as they showed in December 2011.
They can beat them in New Orleans in the Final Four, as evident last March.
And the Jayhawks can beat Ohio State in Columbus, as they did Saturday in a showdown of top 10 teams.
Much appeared familiar besides the outcome in the latest meeting. Kansas started four seniors in its 74-66 victory and played the type of stout defense that has been a staple of Bill Self's 10 seasons as the Jayhawks' coach.
However, the new wrinkle to this Kansas team provided fresh evidence yesterday as to why it's not far-fetched to think the No. 9 Jayhawks (10-1) can return to the national championship game for a second consecutive season.
His name is Ben McLemore, and rumblings about the redshirt freshman's smooth game has been building from out on the prairie since he crashed the veteran Kansas lineup in game one.
Already known to basketball junkies, McLemore is now a secret no more to rest of the college hoops world after dropping 22 points on the Buckeyes in Saturday's win to lead the Jayhawks to their ninth consecutive win.
Big 12/College News
I've exchanged my TV three times already this game and Illinois & Mizzou are still wearing those colors.
With 16,303 purple-clad crazies watching from their seats, the unranked Wildcats pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the college basketball season thus far by thwacking No. 8 Florida 67-61. As big as it was for K-State’s program -- not to mention the struggling Big 12 -- the victory was even more important for Weber, who notched his first significant victory as the Wildcats’ coach.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Hired last spring to replace fan favorite Frank Martin, Weber had gotten off to a bumpy start in Manhattan. Kansas State was 8-2 but had been whipped decisively in its only two games against formidable opponents.
No. 2 Michigan defeated Weber’s squad by 14 points on Nov. 23 at Madison Square Garden. And it was only a week ago that No. 14 Gonzaga gave the Wildcats a 16-point scolding in Seattle.
“Embarrassing,” guard Will Spradling said of the setback.
Considering he’d just been axed by Illinois, Weber’s hire had already been met with some skepticism, and it only intensified after those two defeats. It wasn’t that people truly expected K-State to beat the highly-ranked Wolverines or Zags -- especially away from home. But the Wildcats’ overall lack of cohesion, energy and fire was a reason for concern.
…The victory was Kansas State’s first since 1981 against a nonconference opponent ranked in the top 10. Read that again. In just his 10th game, Weber accomplished something that hadn’t been done in Manhattan in 31 years.
“Coach gave us a great motivational speech before the game,” senior Rodney McGruder said. “We let each other down the last time we played against top 25 teams. We didn’t want to have another meltdown like that.”
For Derrick Nix, who hasn't always had it easy at Michigan State, it was a good time to have a great day.
The senior who lost 70 pounds and overcame an arrest to become one of the Spartans' captains had 25 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 20 Michigan State surge past Texas 67-56 on Saturday.
The NCAA has suspended Texas basketball player Myck Kabongo for 23 games for accepting impermissible benefits and providing false statements during an investigation into the infractions.
The Division I committee on student-athlete reinstatement announced the suspension Friday.
Kabongo also must repay $475 to a charity of his choice. The suspension includes the 10 games he has already missed.
The NCAA said Kabongo accepted airfare and personal training instruction and then provided false and misleading information about the infractions during two interviews with university officials.
Yahoo Sports has reported that the NCAA was examining whether Rich Paul, the agent for LeBron James, was involved in a trip Kabongo took to Cleveland last spring that included at least one workout with professional trainer Jerry Powell.
University officials were notified of the decision last week, the NCAA said. An appeal was heard Thursday, and the NCAA decided to overturn the original decision to suspend Kabongo for the entire season.
If winning and improving stood as Georgetown's most basic goals entering its just concluded four-game homestand, mission accomplished. At least one could make that case following Saturday afternoon's 65-48 win over crosstown foe American at the Verizon Center.
The glass half-empty crowd also has its arguments even as Georgetown claimed its seventh straight victory. As one might expect from a head coach, John Thompson III's postgame reaction to No. 15 Georgetown's final non-conference performance and its 10-1 record entering Big East straddled both sides.
Three days after a woeful effort against Canisius, Temple beat a bigger New York state team, handing No. 3 Syracuse its first loss of the season.
The reasons were simple: The Owls played a better fundamental game, shooting well from the free throw line, where the Orange were awful; taking their time to find the open man, while Syracuse opted for one-on-one isolation plays, praying someone would make a play; and simply outplaying and outhustling the Orange.
Maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising. In Syracuse’s last game, its myriad of mistakes -- coughing up a 20-point lead to allow Detroit to make it a 4-point game -- were overshadowed by the news of Jim Boeheim’s 900th win.
Big 12 Composite Schedule
Congrats to Joel Embiid being named the MVP of the Kreul Power96 Elite Challenge.
Joel Embiid of The Rock had 12 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asts & 3 blks in a win today. Embiid saw limited action, was rested most of the 2nd half.
My 2012 KU Alumni games, 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos, Late Night in the Phog, and more now on YouTube