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Ben McLemore Soars in Kansas Win at Ohio State


At one point in Saturday’s win, Ben McLemore shot a jumper from the top of the key that bounced high off the back iron twice but fell through. At another, he went up for an inbounds lob, missed the shot, but came down with the rebound and put it back while getting fouled.

December 22, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Ben McLemore (23) reacts to a foul against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena. Kansas won the game 74-66. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

It was just that kind of day for him.

McLemore scored 22 points to lead the Jayhawks in their 74-66 win at #7 Ohio State. He added six rebounds and a block to his line. For the third game in a row, McLemore opened the Jayhawk scoring with a three pointer, one of three he’d hit during the game. He also had a dunk on a leading pass and later threw in a jam on a lob.

Kansas won the game despite running into turnover problems. In the first half, Kansas gave it away 11 times and Ohio State took advantage, scoring 13 points off of their takeaways including a 14-0 run from 10:13 in the first half to 5:57. The turnovers ranged from good plays from the Buckeyes and unforced errors. They missed four shots and turned it over three times during OSU’s run. Shannon Scott scored seven points and added an assist in the surge that led to a 31-23 lead for Ohio State.

Kansas called timeouts in the right spots and settled down, answering with a 9-0 run of their own and holding Ohio State scoreless from 6:19 to 1:56 as the half wound down. That allowed them to take a 37-35 lead into the half.

Despite foul trouble, KU played strong defense. After two field goals in the first 93 seconds by Ohio State, they didn’t hit a shot from the floor until 8:15 was left in the game. During that stretch they scored eight points from the free throw line until Amir Williams‘s layup made it 53-50. Travis Releford answered with a three and OSU never got any closer than four points.

OSU got caught settling for three point shots, but missed most of them. They made eight of 31 shots from outside all day but only two of those came in the second half.

Despite the win, there’s still plenty to work on. OSU outhustled KU and got 14 offensive rebounds, many of which went off the hands of a Jayhawk. KU didn’t get much from their bench – Naadir Tharpe contributed, but Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor weren’t a factor in seven and five minutes respectively. As players started to get into foul trouble in the second half, it could have made Kansas vulnerable to another run.

In the final minutes, KU let up a bit and OSU started getting some shots to fall, as well as getting to the line. The last minute of the game took an eternity to complete as Kansas let OSU get to the line a couple of times, including a foul on a three point attempt. In another instance, McLemore committed goaltending after a foul and OSU got a three point play. Kansas scored eight points in the last sixty seconds of the game. OSU scored ten in that stretch and it was mostly due to a combination of bad turnovers, the inability to escape and silly fouls. So there’s a lot to work on.

Free throws looked like an issue at one point, but KU hit seven of their last eight as they pulled away, so their percentage looks a lot better than it seemed during the game. At one point they were at 12 of 22 from the line with all of those turnovers, which is usually a good way to lose a game, especially on the road.

But they won. Travis Releford scored 11, Elijah Johnson scored 13 but committed four turnovers. Kevin Young had ten rebounds. Tharpe, as noted, was the only significant contributor in the game off the bench, playing good defense and showing some poise in a tough environment while scoring five points. He played fifteen minutes.

Kansas takes their 10-1 record back to Allen Fieldhouse next Saturday when they face American University at 7 p.m. CST.