# 5 Ohio State Moves to 11-1, Downs #6 Kentucky

5th ranked Ohio State defeated their third top 10 opponent in a little over 5 weeks, topping #6 Kentucky 71-65 in the annual CBS Sports Classic played this year in Las Vegas.  The Buckeyes led for the majority of the game and although they could never pull away, Ohio State looked like the better basketball team and proved it on the scoreboard, defeating the Wildcats for the second straight time in the series to move to 11-1 on the year. D.J. Carton led 3 Buckeyes in double figures with 13 points and 5 boards.  Kaleb Wesson fouled out but not before he added 12 and 8 and Kyle Young chipped in 10 and 6 for the victorious Buckeyes.

The Wildcats struggled early to defend Ohio State’s movement through the paint and were whistled for 6 quick fouls, just 3 minutes into the game.  Kentucky struggled offensively to get any flow as well, turning it over 4 times in their first five possessions and along Kaleb Wesson’s quick early 5 points, Ohio State took an early 9-6 lead at the first media timeout of the ballgame. Ohio State’s early lead was short lived as a pair of turnovers around the perimeter led to Kentucky run outs and easy lay ins forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with Kentucky in front for the first time 13-11 and 12:47 remaining in the first half. The Buckeyes regained the lead 20-19 when DJ Carton found Kyle Young in transition with a nifty long bounce, pass leading to a dunk.  After Kentucky answered with a short jumper to go back in front, Carton knifed to the rim for a lay in to regain the lead and forcing John Calipari to call timeout with Ohio State on top 22-21 and 8:28 remaining in the first half. The Buckeyes maintained their lead over the next 4 minutes as the Wildcats who rank 332nd nationally in 3 point percentage, and had made 2 of their first 5 threes were settling for long range jumpers and having no success, missing 6 straight from beyond the arc. Ohio State who ranks 6th in the country in 3 point percentage was struggling to shoot it as well, hitting just 2 of their first 11 attempts, yet led 29-27 at the under 4 media timeout. Out of the timeout, Luther Muhammad found a rolling Young for a layup and Ohio State led by 4.  After a 4-0 Wildcat run to tie the score, Andre Wesson buried a three from the right point to put Ohio State back up 3 and momentarily quieting the decidedly pro Kentucky crowd. A bucket for the ‘Cats cut the lead to 1, but a driving C.J. Walker sucked in the defense and he dropped the ball to E.J. Liddell who scored while being fouled.  Liddell buried the free throw and Ohio State led by 4 again.  A late Kentucky 3 cut the lead to one and sent the teams to the locker room with Ohio State clinging to a 37-36 lead.  Both teams struggled to shoot it behind the arc, hitting just 3 of 13 respectively, while Ohio State had a slight edge overall, shooting it at a 52% clip compared to Kentucky’s 50%.  Ohio State still struggled with valuing the basketball, turning it over 9 times, compared to just 6 for Kentucky.  Kyle Young led Ohio State with 10 and Kaleb Wesson added 7 and spent much of the latter minutes of the half on the bench with 2 fouls.  Ashton Hagans and Nate Sestina who both scored 11 to lead Kentucky in the first half.

The Buckeyes got out to a quick start in the second half.  Kaleb Wesson drew the 3rd foul on Kentucky leading scorer Nick Richards when he ball faked at the perimeter and was fouled on the dribble drive.  Wesson split the free throws and after a Kentucky turnover, C.J. Walker scored on a jumper off the bounce from the right baseline to give Ohio State a 4-point lead forcing a quick Kentucky timeout.  Kentucky’s Nate Sestina buried his 4th triple of the game to cut the lead to 1 with 16:25 to go. After a Kentucky foul on the other end, C.J. Walker found E.J. Liddell out of the inbounds for a score and Ohio State led by 3 heading to the under 16 media timeout but with Kaleb Wesson picking up his 3rd personal.  Another Sestina 3 cut the lead to one but a pair of Washington free throws gave Ohio State a 3-point advantage that moved to five when a dribble driving Andre Wesson found E.J. Liddell for a layup and Ohio State led 49-44 at the under 12 media timeout. The Buckeyes employed a 2-3 to avoid the pick and pop from Sestina and it was successful for a long stretch as the Wildcats struggled offensively. A pair of D.J. Carton free throws gave Ohio State their largest lead of seven with 10:45 to go as Kentucky went over 3:30 without a point, but the Cats would come right back, trimming the lead to two at the under 8 media timeout with Ohio State leading 53-51 and 6:57 showing on the game clock. The Buckeye lead went back to 5 after a Luther Muhammad short jumper in traffic but Kentucky answered to cut the lead back to 3, and with 4:09 on the game clock, Chris Holtmann called timeout with Ohio State possessing the ball and the lead, 59-56. Muhammad drilled a triple out of the timeout to extend the lead to 6 but on the ensuing possession, Kaleb Wesson committed his 5th foul and had to sit for the remainder of the game.  After Kentucky split a pair of free throws and an Ohio State miss, UK had an open look for three, but D.J. Carton came seemingly out of nowhere to block the attempt and keep the lead at 5. A short Carton jumper gave Ohio State a 7-point lead and Kentucky called timeout with 1:10 left and time running out on the Wildcats.  The Cats would score out of the timeout to cut the lead to 5, but after a timeout, C.J. Walker drilled a three from the left wing to all but seal it.

Another big win for Chris Holtmann’s group in what has been an early season full of big wins.  Ohio State once again proved it is one of the best teams in America beating Kentucky, which was seemingly a road environment thanks to the clearly pro Kentucky crowd. The Buckeyes continue to impress with their balance and not having to count on just one or two guys to score.  Once again, it was about defense for Ohio State, holding the Wildcats to 42% from the floor and blocking 7 shots.  The change to a 2-3 zone defense by Chris Holtmann midway through the second half seemed to fluster Kentucky and force them to look out of sync for much of the half. The Buckeyes have all the makings of a team that can make a run in March.  They are well coached, play great, connected defense and they are very unselfish offensively. Now Ohio State can enjoy some holiday cheer with their families before hitting the floor again in 8 days.  For Buckeye nation, the attention turns to the gridiron for the Buckeye football team’s big one in the desert against Clemson.  Enjoy the holidays Buckeye Nation!  It’s a great time to be a Buckeye!

Ohio State has some time off for Christmas before heading to Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse next Sunday to face off with 25th ranked West Virginia.  Tip time for that one is scheduled for high noon on FS1.


-Jason Harris

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