COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It’s not supposed to be this easy for a kid playing his first collegiate road game.
Kansas’ Ben McLemore, a redshirt freshman surrounded in the starting lineup by seniors, didn’t let the raucous crowd, the travel or sleeping in a strange bed bother him.
McLemore scored 22 points and No. 9 Kansas proved it was more than just a bully at home by beating seventh-ranked Ohio State 74-66 on Saturday.
“This was great. It was my first time playing in an away game,” McLemore said with a slight smile. “You go up and down the court a little bit, and you get into the game. I kept my intensity, I just played my game.”
For that matter, none of the Jayhawks had yet played a true road game this season. Kansas, which has won nine in a row since losing to Michigan State 67-64 on Nov. 13 in Atlanta, came in 7-0 at home, with two other games played before friendly fans in nearby Kansas City.
They had barely heard a boo all season.
No wonder coach Bill Self was a little worried.
“I had concerns, for sure,” Self said. “Our seniors are good and quality and they’ve been through some things, but against a team that pressures man-to-man and you’re playing with one primarily (ball) handler? That was my biggest concern.”
But the Jayhawks (10-1) weathered a 14-0 run by the Buckeyes (9-2) in the first half that turned the volume up in Value City Arena to 11 on a scale of 10. Then, down in the second half, they held cold-shooting Ohio State without a field goal for more than 10 minutes to take control.
The Buckeyes, who were led by Deshaun Thomas’ 16 points and a career-best 15 by Shannon Scott, hit just 9 of 36 shots from the field in the final 20 minutes. For the game, they ended up making only 31 percent of their shots from the field.
No wonder coach Thad Matta looked so stunned when he spoke after the game.
“There was one point in the second half where I turned to the bench and I said, ‘Hey, let’s call a play where we score,’” he said, heavy on the irony. “A lot of it just comes down to you’ve got to put the ball in the basket in a game like this and we couldn’t do it. It became contagious.”
Sixty percent of the starting lineup — star defender Aaron Craft, usually reliable Lenzelle Smith Jr. and post man Evan Ravenel — was a combined 5 of 24 from the field.
Credit the Jayhawks, who play withering man-to-man defense and then are backed up by the incredible wingspan of 7-foot Jeff Withey underneath. Or blame the Buckeyes, who frequently were all alone when they bricked a shot off the rim. But no matter the reason, Ohio State couldn’t buy a bucket for most of the second half.
It was the third victory for the Jayhawks in little more than a year over the Buckeyes (9-2). Kansas won a 64-62 thriller in last year’s NCAA semifinals.
“Today’s probably the best we’ve played against Ohio State in the three games,” Self said. “We were really good except for about a 3-minute stretch in the first half when they went on a (14-0) run. Other than that stretch, that was a pretty good 35 minutes we played out there.”
Withey added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Jayhawks. Elijah Johnson had 13 points and Travis Releford 11.
They weathered Ohio State’s first-half tear by relying on the seniors.
“We have a good group of vets and we’ve been in tough situations before,” Withey said. “We just bounced back. We just had to kind of breathe a little bit.”
Ahead 56-52 with 7 minutes left, Kansas pulled away thanks to its McLemore. He hit a pair of foul shots and then flipped in a 15-foot jumper that bounced not once, not twice, but three times before falling through. Off an inbounds pass, McLemore then came off a back pick and dunked to push the lead to 62-52 with 5 minutes left.
The Buckeyes never got closer than six points again.
Self said he found out a little more about McLemore in the game.
“There’s a lot of stuff I’m curious about Ben,” he said. “He’s still trying to figure out how to play. You can tell in late-game situations, he’s played less basketball than anybody that’s as old as him and as good as him around. It’s all new to him. When it all comes naturally to him, he’s going to become terrific.”
In his first road game, he already was.
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap
More Related Stories
- Stop what you're doing and go watch "Borgen"
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- New York chef serves up eight-course meal around "Arrested Development" jokes
- HLN: Jodi Arias "pleading for her life" got us a ratings win!
- Michael Ian Black on Maron feud: He "considered me a poseur"
- Chekhov's story mirrors Russia's own
- Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina denied parole
- Joe Francis apologizes for calling jury "retarded"
- Mary Karr: David Foster Wallace and I kept each other alive
- Morgan Freeman sleeps during televised interview
- J.J. Abrams reveals deleted shower scene with Benedict Cumberbatch
- Is the anti-gay backlash on?
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- Juror responds to Joe Francis' insults with thoughtful email
- New track from the Lonely Island features Solange Knowles, semicolons
- Amazon introduces fan fiction publishing platform
- Naomi Watts, "Argo," "Wonderstone" among bizarre Teen Choice Awards nominees
- Imprisoned Pussy Riot member declares hunger strike
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11