Dec. 10, 2011

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PostgameAudio – Aaron Craft PostgameAudio – William Buford PostgameAudio – Deshaun Thomas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) – Thomas Robinson scored 21 points, Elijah Johnson added 15 and No. 13 Kansas never trailed in a 78-67 victory Saturday over second-ranked Ohio State, which had to play without star forward Jared Sullinger due to an injury.

Freshman forward Kevin Young came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points, and Tyshawn Taylor had nine points and a career-best 13 assists 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.

The Buckeyes were missing Sullinger, a preseason All-American, for the second straight game because of back spasms. He tried to get his back stretched out before the game but didn’t participate in the shoot-around, ultimately spending the afternoon on the bench in jeans and a sweater.

It was a big loss for the Buckeyes. Not only does Sullinger average better than 19 points and 10 rebounds, he also would have been tasked with guarding Robinson, another All-America candidate.

Robinson was quiet much of the first half, but he came through down the stretch, scoring 10 of his points in the final four minutes to help wrap up the win.

The Jayhawks were desperate for a high-profile victory after losses to top-ranked Kentucky and No. 7 Duke, and they got against a Buckeyes team that had the nation in scoring margin, was first in turnover margin and fifth in rebounding margin – and came up short in each category against Kansas.

Kansas wound up shooting 58.3 percent from the field, while the Buckeyes made 39 percent.

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 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.

It was their first meeting since Dec. 23, 2000, when Kansas won in Columbus