Senior guard Travis Releford, with a little inside help from center Jeff Withey, was able to frustrate Ohio State leading scorer Deshaun Thomas.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
“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 Thomas. Step one: Put Releford, a lockdown defender, on Thomas, a powerful 6-7 forward with touch from the outside. Step two: 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.”
Releford said he could sense Thomas getting frustrated as the game wore on.
“Once they wasn’t getting what they wanted on the offensive end," Releford said, "everything like broke apart for them.”
• Kansas improved to 44-24 against ranked teams under Self.
• The Jayhawks will return to the floor against American on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. They will then wrap up their nonconference schedule against Temple on Jan. 6 in Lawrence.
• Key play: After weathering an Ohio State run, Ben McLemore dropped in a three-pointer that gave Kansas a 35-34 lead.
• Key stat: KU had 11 turnovers, providing easy points for Ohio State.
• Key play: Moments after hitting a jumper, McLemore finished an alley-oop off an in-bounds play, giving Kansas a 62-52 lead with 5:22 left.
Key stat: Kansas held Ohio State to a season-low 30.8 percent shooting.
| Rustin Dodd, firstname.lastname@example.org