Ohio State won the Hall of Fame Tip Off championship game last weekend but still has a contest to play in the tournament.
It likely won’t receive as much of a challenge as it did in the final – or as it should get in the game after this one.
Before turning their attention to a showdown of current top 5 teams, the third-ranked Buckeyes face Missouri-Kansas City for the first time Friday night in Columbus.
After beating Rhode Island 69-58 in the tournament semifinals in Connecticut on Saturday, Ohio State (3-0) defeated Washington 77-66 in Sunday’s title game. The Buckeyes led by seven with 9:35 to play before going on an 18-8 run to put away the game.
“We all figured it out together as a team,” tournament MVP Deshaun Thomas said.
Thomas followed his 25-point, 10-rebound performance in the semifinals by matching a career high with 31 points in the final. The junior forward, who also had eight rebounds, scored 11 of his team’s first 13 points and had 21 by halftime.
“It’s always a lot of fun when you have a guy that’s feeling really good and can knock down shots from just about anywhere,” guard Aaron Craft said.
Craft has been no slouch shooting the ball, either.
While Thomas is averaging 25.0 points and shooting 50.9 percent while making 10 of 22 3-pointers, Craft has averaged 17.0 points and 50.0 percent shooting from both the field and beyond the arc (7 of 14).
The Buckeyes will likely lean heavily on Thomas and Craft for Wednesday’s game at No. 5 Duke, but probably won’t need as much production from them in the last of four guaranteed games in the Hall of Fame Tip Off.
UMKC (2-2) defeated Norfolk State 63-57 on Sunday in the Connecticut tournament consolation game after losing to Albany 62-59 the previous day. The Buckeyes opened the season with an 82-60 victory over Albany.
The Kangaroos, meanwhile, opened with a 75-36 loss at Seton Hall, and they’ve dropped 10 of 11 on the road against non-conference opponents. They also have lost all five games against Big Ten teams and are 0-14 all-time against ranked foes, with the last three decided by an average of 42.7 points.
None of that bodes well for facing Ohio State, which has won 33 straight home games over non-conference opponents and is 5-0 all-time against members of the Summit League.
UMKC is led by Estan Tyler and Kirk Korver, the younger brother of NBA guard Kyle Korver. Tyler averages 11.8 points and has made 7 of 12 3-pointers, while Korver averages 12.3 points and is 10 of 21 on 3s.
The Buckeyes are one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams at 45.1 percent but haven’t defended the perimeter well, allowing opponents to hit 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Ohio State is committing a Big Ten-low 8.3 turnovers per game, compared to UMKC’s average of 16.0.