No. 13 Kansas 78, No. 2 Ohio St. 67

Tyshawn Taylor played through the pain. Jared Sullinger did

not.

That may have been the difference for No. 13 Kansas in its

victory over second-ranked Ohio State.

The Jayhawks’ starting point guard had a career-high 13 assists

despite a torn meniscus and sprained MCL in his right knee, helping

Kansas to a 78-67 victory over the Buckeyes, who were missing

Sullinger for the second consecutive game due to back spasms.

”I can get on Ty because he will turn it over every now and

then, but where would we be without him?” Self said. ”We don’t

win the game tonight if he doesn’t play. He definitely isn’t 100

percent.”

Thomas Robinson took advantage of Sullinger’s absence inside to

score 21 points, and newcomer Kevin Young came off the bench to add

a career-high 14 for the Jayhawks (6-2), who extended their winning

streak to 47 games over non-conference opponents at Allen

Fieldhouse.

William Buford had 17 of his 21 points in the second half for

Ohio State (8-1), which was playing on the road for the first time

this season. Deshaun Thomas added 19 points.

”When you make mistakes, Kansas is so good they’re going to

make you pay, and we made some key mistakes,” Buckeyes coach Thad

Matta said. ”Our guys competed – just made mistakes down the

stretch.”

Taylor hurt his knee in practice earlier in the week and could

have opted for surgery, but the Jayhawks’ medical staff decided he

wouldn’t harm it any more by playing. They left it up to him to the

senior to decide whether he could manage the pain, and Self didn’t

ask how much he was experiencing.

”If you ask them if they’re hurting, then you give them an

opportunity to give you an answer,” Self said, adding that Taylor

hadn’t practiced all week until Friday.

He’ll have surgery Sunday and will miss about three weeks.

It was more publicly known that Sullinger was a question mark,

but he wasn’t ruled out until just before the game, when his balky

back simply wouldn’t loosen up.

”As I told Coach Self when we shook hands before the game,

`Merry Christmas early,”’ Matta said.

”I don’t think his exact words were, `Merry Christmas,”’ Self

said with a grin. ”I think there were some other words in there,

maybe describing the holiday.”

”I don’t think you put an asterisk with the win,” Self added.

”Ohio State can certainly say, and rightfully so, `Jared didn’t

play.’ And we know he didn’t play, and they’re a much better team

with him. We wanted him to play. But just because he plays doesn’t

guarantee anything.”

The Jayhawks were desperate for a high-profile victory after

losses to top-ranked Kentucky and No. 7 Duke, and they got on

against a Buckeyes team that had led the nation in scoring

margin.

”We had this awesome non-conference schedule set up and we

still have some good teams to play, but the main teams were

Kentucky, Ohio State and Duke,” Robinson said, “and it would have

been incomplete if we didn’t get one of them.”

Buoyed by a frenzied crowd that jammed Allen Fieldhouse to the

rafters, the Jayhawks raced to a 23-13 lead just over midway

through the first half, the decibel level at one point registering

114 on the scoreboard – roughly equal to that of a rock

concert.

Robinson did most of the work inside, capitalizing on the

absence of Sullinger to score around the rim. He had all seven of

his first-half points during the opening flurry, and Connor Teahan

and Johnson each hit 3-pointers as noise seemed ready to lift the

roof from the building.

The Buckeyes finally hit their stride, and it was Thomas who

jump-started them.

The sophomore forward hit consecutive 3-pointers from well

beyond the arc, and Amir Williams added his only basket of the

first half to slice into the lead. Thomas’ third 3-pointer of the

half and free throws by Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Evan Ravenel trimmed

it to 33-29 with a minute left.

Young’s basket moments later off a feed from Robinson gave

Kansas a six-point lead at the break.

The school announced new football coach Charlie Weis during the

intermission, and he concluded a brief statement by saying, ”Let’s

go whup Ohio State. Rock chalk, Jayhawk!”

The Jayhawks gladly obliged.

Johnson hit two more 3-pointers early in the second half, and

the lead swelled to 47-37 when Releford hit a 3-pointer off a feed

from Johnson and Jeff Withey scored on a putback.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta called timeout to calm his team

down, and Buford proved his veteran poise by scoring the first

basket when play resumed. It was the start of four-minute run in

which he scored all five of the Buckeyes’ field goals, getting them

back within single digits.

The closest it ever got was 62-58, though.

Back-to-back turnovers by Thomas and Jordan Sibert prevented the

Buckeyes from having a chance to take the lead, and Robinson

converted a three-point play when he was fouled on a putback off a

miss by Young with 2:40 remaining in the game. His free throw

restored the lead to 71-61.

Robinson and the Jayhawks took care of things from the foul line

down the stretch, allowing the reigning Big 12 champions to beat

the defending Big Ten champs for the fourth straight time.

”We competed. We’re a competitive team and that’s a positive,”

Thomas said. ”Without Jared, we came out and competed without him.

We’re a great team with him, don’t get me wrong, but we came out

and competed and that’s one thing that coach noticed.”