Who: #2 Ohio State at #13 Kansas
When: 3:15 p.m. ET
Where: (Phog) Allen Fieldhouse - Lawrence, Kansas
Getting to know the Jayhawks: Kansas has a 6-2 record and is ranked #13 in the current AP poll. Their main strength is their big man, Thomas Robinson. This may be the only time this year that Ohio State’s bench is going to get more minutes than the other teams. The main concern for Kansas fans is their inconsistent guard play - even though they're a veteran led group, all three starting guard average over 2 turnovers a game. If you look at the game on paper, you’d think that the Kansas team has a lot of experience, but they don’t, only three current players played significant minutes last year. The Ohio State underclassmen have just as much, if not more, big game experience than the KU players.
Thomas Robinson, 6-9 forward, Junior - The star of Kansas is Thomas Robinson, a preseason All-American power forward. He has lived up to the hype he received in the preseason by averaging a double-double and is currently second in the nation in rebounds per game. He's a physical monster that can only be contained, not stopped.
Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3 guard, Senior - Next in line is Tyshawn Taylor, a point guard that hasn’t quite lived up to the hype he received early on. Taylor is athletic, with a good shot, but is a senior that often makes freshmen mistakes. He surrendered 11 turnovers against Duke this year and is averaging 4 turnovers a game with only 3.6 assists. His past 5 games he has had at least 4 turnovers and didn’t start against Long Beach State. It should be noted that Taylor shoots the three at a .571 clip.
Jeff Withey, 7-0 center, Junior -The player most likely to be given the job of guarding Jared Sullinger is the 7 foot center Jeff Withey. Withey will be a major factor on how this game turns out, especially since the Jayhawks have a thin bench and only have 2 serviceable big men. A key to the game, will be Withey trying to contain Sullinger without getting into foul trouble. On offense he will get some touches but not many; he gets most of his most off of dribble drive penetration from the guards.
Elijah Johnson, 6-4 guard, Junior - Elijah Johnson is the two guard averaging short of 9 ppg, he is capable of getting hot at any time, even though his season field goal percentage is awful. Johnson does average around 4 assists but like the other KU guards he also has his fair share of turnovers. Defensively, he is decent but isn’t going to create much havoc.
Travis Releford, 6-5 guard/foward, Junior - The last starter is Travis Releford. He plays a defensive role and will most likely guard Buford. Releford has good length but isn’t very strong, which may allow Buford to penetrate the paint. His offense is limited and his shooting is below average at best. Against Duke and Kentucky he has only scored 8 points combined.
Bench: Connor Teahan is the sixth man of the Jayhawks - mainly a three point shooter with a decent defensive game. He could have a major contribution in the game if he is able to get open looks but if then not he ican typically be pretty inaffective. Kansas will only play Justin Wesley and maybe another player depending on foul trouble but don’t expect much contribution from the bench unless it comes from Teahan.
Key match up - Craft vs.Taylor: Will Craft frustrate Taylor or will Taylor come out and play like a first round NBA draft pick? This, in my opinion, determines who wins the game. Kansas goes as Taylor goes, in their two losses, one game he shot 3 for 13 from the field and in the other he had 11 turnovers. His worst numbers, in their wins, are 4-11 from the field and 5 turnovers. The past four game Taylor has had at least 4 turnovers. If bad Taylor shows up, Ohio State wins by 8-10, if good Taylor shows up then it’s a ball game.
The X factor: Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Ravenal have to be able to hit shots. Right now they’re averaging 33.2 ppg, I believe in order to walk out with a win they need to have at least 30 points combined.
Keys to the game: For Kansas it’s keeping turnovers to a minimum, staying out of foul trouble, and feeding Thomas Robinson. Ohio State needs to silence the crowd, take them out of the game (easier said than done).Taking good shots and making the extra pass. Lastly, is free throw shooting, the Buckeyes are shooting 67% on the year but in the two big games have shot 79.4% and 70%. Playing in a tough environment you can’t afford giving away freebies.
Final analysis: Allen Fieldhouse will be rocking tomorrow and ready for the top 15 match up. It’s going to be played at a even tempo, not a fast break NBA style game and not a Wisconsin style game either. Sullinger and Robinson won’t guard each other except for maybe a handful of times but will both have similar numbers, Robinson’s being a bit better. Withey will play well and contain Sullinger. Craft will out play Taylor slightly, but Taylor shows up and plays good. It’ll be an evenly played game all the way through. In the end, Ohio State’s guard play will be too much for Kansas to match. Craft,Buford, and Smith Jr. will force key late game turnovers, get into transition and convert key fast breaks.
Game prediction: Ohio State 73 Kansas 68.
Player of the Game: William Buford 22 pts, 6 rbs, 4 ast.
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