No. 9 Kansas at No. 7 Ohio State
|G||32||Lenzelle Smith Jr.||6-4||Jr.||11.5|
• WHEN/WHERE: 3 p.m. today at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio
• TV/RADIO: CBS (Chs. 5, 13); KCSP (610 AM)
• ABOUT OHIO STATE (9-1): Ohio State has won five straight after suffering its only loss on Nov. 28 at Duke. The Buckeyes lost NBA first-round pick Jared Sullinger off last year’s team, which advanced to the Final Four before falling to Kansas. But coach Thad Matta has reloaded with a group that includes All-America candidate Deshaun Thomas, an inside-outside threat at the forward spot. KU coach Bill Self says Ohio State’s defense is its most impressive quality. But the Buckeyes rank among the top 16 in offensive and defensive efficiency, according to advanced metrics. Beware KU ball handlers: Junior point guard Aaron Craft is a turnover-causing pest for opposing guards.
• ABOUT KANSAS (9-1): If there was ever an opportune time for KU’s marquee non-conference game, this might be it. The Jayhawks have won eight straight and dominated in their last three contests, outscoring opponents by an average of 31 points per game. Expect senior Travis Releford to get an opportunity to guard Thomas. But KU’s entire defense will be tested. Led by Jeff Withey’s nation-leading 5.4 blocks per game, Kansas ranks sixth in the country in defensive efficiency. On offense, Elijah Johnson is averaging more than seven assists per game in his last four games. KU leads the all-time series against Ohio State 7-3, including two wins last season and a 69-68 victory in Columbus on Dec. 23, 2000.
• BOTTOM LINE: After beating Ohio State twice last season, the Jayhawks lost Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor to the NBA. But Ohio State lost Sullinger and William Buford. The numbers say KU has the right mix of offense and defense to beat Ohio State for a third straight time. But in KU’s first road game, be wary of Ohio State’s home-court advantage.
| Rustin Dodd, firstname.lastname@example.org