In a recreation that felt like an NCAA Match second-weekend contest, the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes held off an extremely gifted No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats squad 71-65 in Las Vegas as a part of the CBS Sports activities Basic.
4 years in the past on a Saturday evening in Brooklyn, the Ohio State Buckeyes confronted off with the No. Four workforce within the nation, the Kentucky Wildcats, within the CBS Sports activities Basic. Ohio State, coached by Thad Matta on the time, was 5-5 and did not appear like an NCAA-tournament caliber workforce (they ended up going to the NIT).
Kentucky, alternatively, was 9-1, ranked within the high 5 in each the AP and Coaches’ Polls, and had three future NBA gamers on their roster.
All indicators pointed to a Kentucky romp, however the Buckeyes, behind a mixed 26 factors from Keita Bates-Diop and Marc Loving, knocked off the No. Four Wildcats, 74-67. It was the spotlight of an in any other case disappointing season that noticed the Buckeyes lose within the second spherical of the NIT.
Quick ahead 4 years.
On Saturday evening, No. 5 Ohio State (11-1, 1-1) had an opportunity to get one other win over No. 6 Massive Blue (8-3) within the CBS Sports activities Basic, though this time expectations have been a lot greater for OSU.
Regardless of a season-high 21 turnovers of their final recreation, a win in opposition to the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, together with 5 from level guard CJ Walker, Chris Holtmann caught with the identical beginning 5 he’s used lately. CJ Walker began at level, Luther Muhammad on the off-guard spot, and the trio of Andre Wesson, Kyle Young, and Kaleb Wesson because the three forwards. Duane Washington Jr., who missed the earlier two video games with a rib harm, got here off the bench.
In a gathering between two groups who depend on their stingy defenses to win video games, buckets weren’t simple to come back by early. Within the first 4 minutes, Ohio State and Kentucky mixed for seven turnovers. The Wildcats additionally racked up six fouls within the first jiffy, a lot to the chagrin of Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
Whereas the groups have been a mixed 5-9 taking pictures from the ground early on, turnovers restricted productiveness, and Ohio State held a 9-6 lead after the primary jiffy.
The rating could be 13-5 with out these 6 turnovers by Ohio State
— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) December 21, 2019
Whereas Ohio State continued to show the ball over early on this one (six of them within the first seven minutes), Kentucky bailed them out with loads of early fouls. With UK committing their seventh foul on the 12:28 mark of the primary half, Ohio State was within the bonus early, forcing the Wildcats to play protection a bit extra cautiously, or else threat sending the Buckeyes to the road. OSU took benefit hitting 10-of-12 (83.3%) free throws earlier than halftime.
In an odd flip of occasions, each groups have been taking pictures an equivalent 47 p.c from the ground on the 12:15 mark of the primary half, when officers referred to as a timeout after Kentucky’s Nate Sestina knocked heads with Kaleb Wesson. Regardless of environment friendly taking pictures on each ends, the rating was solely 22-21 by this time, as a plethora of turnovers and fouls restricted both workforce from taking many pictures.
In a back-and-forth battle, Kyle Young was the anchor that held all of it collectively within the first half for the Buckeyes, with Eight factors, 2 rebounds, and a steal over the primary 16 minutes, together with this thunderous dunk off a dime from D.J. Carton (admittedly after lacking the alley-oop a couple of minutes earlier):
The 2 groups traded factors via the ultimate jiffy of the half. Ohio State led the vast majority of the primary half (13:22 to three:29), however was by no means in a position to lengthen it past 4 factors.
When the primary half buzzer sounded and each groups have been in a position to head to their respective locker rooms for some much-needed oxygen, the Buckeyes have been nonetheless holding on, main 37-36.
At instances it seemed ugly, with the 2 squads combining for 20 private fouls and 15 turnovers. Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans was particularly impactful with three steals within the first half. On the identical time, each groups have been taking pictures north of 50 p.c on the break. Mainly, in the event you may grasp onto the ball lengthy sufficient to take a shot, there was a good probability that it was going to drop.
Young was practically good within the first half for the Buckeyes, scoring 10 factors on 3-of-Three taking pictures whereas additionally hitting all 4 of his free throws. For the Wildcats, Sestina was the go-to man, dropping 11 factors on 4-of-Eight taking pictures, together with 3-for-6 from 3-point vary. Sestina’s three 3-pointers matched what number of he’d hit within the first 10 video games of the season mixed.
The foul/turnover-fest picked up proper the place it left off within the second half, with the 2 groups combining for 5 extra giveaways within the first jiffy of the second half. Sestina continued his lights-out taking pictures, flattening his fourth 3-pointer of the sport, which outpaced what number of he’d hit within the earlier 10 video games mixed. Regardless of this, the Buckeyes led 42-39 on the first media timeout.
Ohio State opened up a five-point lead by the second media timeout of the half, and their protection — particularly within the paint — was giving Kentucky matches. The Wildcats solely scored eight factors via the primary 9 minutes of the second half, as issues like this saved taking place to them each time they dared enterprise too near the basket:
And like this:
Regardless of Kentucky’s difficulties on the offensive finish, they made it clear that Ohio State was not going to run away with this one. After falling behind by seven, Kentucky clawed again. A mini 5-Zero Wildcat run, capped off by an Immauel Quickley floater, lower the Buckeye lead again down to 2 on the 6:58 mark of the second half, 56-54.
Ohio State had slowed down on the turnovers, however Hagans and Quickley repeatedly pestered Ohio State, exhibiting why they’re thought to be two of the higher defensive guards in school basketball.
Kaleb Wesson was referred to as for his fifth foul on the 3:30 mark of the second half, however his presence had been felt. He had 12 factors and eight rebounds, however his inside protection on Sestina and EJ Montgomery was essential in Ohio State’s battle to beat the No. 6 workforce within the nation.
Walker’s 3-pointer with 28 seconds left on the clock, his greatest shot as a Buckeye thus far, put Ohio State up eight, and it was the dagger that completed the Wildcats.
After committing 5 turnovers in his earlier recreation, it was solely becoming that the transfer-guard was the one to land the ultimate blow in a recreation the place neither workforce was in a position to solidly pull forward till the ultimate buzzer sounded. When all was stated and finished, Chris Holtmann’s squad escaped Las Vegas with a 71-65 win.
Carton paced the Buckeyes with 13 factors, 5 rebounds, and a couple of assists. Kaleb Wesson was proper behind him with 12 factors, and Younger chipped in 10, all of which got here within the first half. Collectively, Ohio State had seven gamers rating not less than seven factors, and as a workforce shot 50 p.c from the ground in opposition to among the best defenses within the nation.
Ohio State may have over every week off earlier than their subsequent recreation, which shall be on Dec. 29 against the No. 25 West Virginia Mountaineers in Cleveland. The sport shall be broadcast at 12 midday ET on FS1.