COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s not supposed to be this easy for a kid playing his first collegiate road game.
Kansas’ Ben McLemore, a redshirt freshman surrounded in the starting lineup by seniors, didn’t let the raucous crowd, the travel or sleeping in a strange bed bother him.
McLemore scored 22 points and No. 9 Kansas proved it was more than just a bully at home by beating seventh-ranked Ohio State 74-66 on Saturday.
“This was great. It was my first time playing in an away game,” McLemore said with a slight smile. “You go up and down the court a little bit, and you get into the game. I kept my intensity, I just played my game.”
For that matter, none of the Jayhawks had yet played a true road game this season. Kansas, which has won nine in a row since losing to Michigan State 67-64 on Nov. 13 in Atlanta, came in 7-0 at home, with two other games played before friendly fans in nearby Kansas City.
They had barely heard a boo all season.
No wonder coach Bill Self was a little worried.
“I had concerns, for sure,” Self said. “Our seniors are good and quality and they’ve been through some things, but against a team that pressures man-to-man and you’re playing with one primarily (ball) handler? That was my biggest concern.”
But the Jayhawks (10-1) weathered a 14-0 run by the Buckeyes (9-2) in the first half that turned the volume up in Value City Arena to 11 on a scale of 10. Then, down in the second half, they held cold-shooting Ohio State without a field goal for more than 10 minutes to take control.
The Buckeyes, who were led by Deshaun Thomas’ 16 points and a career-best 15 by Shannon Scott, hit just 9 of 36 shots from the field in the final 20 minutes. For the game, they ended up making only 31 percent of their shots from the field.
No. 20 Mich. St. 67Texas 56
EAST LANSING, Mich. — For Derrick Nix, who hasn’t always had it easy at Michigan State, it was a good time to have a great day.
The senior who lost 70 pounds and overcame an arrest to become one of the Spartans’ captains had 25 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 20 Michigan State surge past Texas 67-56 on Saturday.
“Nix and I have a love-hate relationship; I love to hate him sometimes,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “He gets frustrated with himself sometimes, too. One of the hardest things to do is take criticism. But he has grown up a lot.”
Nix was 7 for 10 from the field and 11 for 13 at the line, a major improvement for a 64.9 percent foul shooter.
Keith Appling had 14 points and Adreian Payne added 13 for the Spartans (11-2), who stayed perfect in six December games.
“I didn’t get a scholarship here because they wanted to give it to me,” Nix said. “I had to be doing something right. Today, they didn’t double-team. I hit my first shot and tried to dominate the rest of the day.”
No. 24 Okla. St. 78Tenn. Tech 42
STILLWATER — Oklahoma State’s defense was far too much for Tennessee Tech.
The Golden Eagles turned the ball over 20 times in a 78-42 loss to the 24th-ranked Cowboys on Saturday.
Forte hit 6 of 11 from 3-point range and the Cowboys (10-1) hit a season-high 11 3-point field goals. Kamari Murphy scored 12 points, Markel Brown and Marcus Smart each scored 11, and Kirby Gardner added 10 points and seven assists.
“We have struggled to score at times this year, and we knew (Oklahoma State) was good, especially on the defensive end,” Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said. “I thought we made some poor decisions at times but they had a lot to do with that.
Judd Dillard led Tennessee Tech (6-6) with 18 points. Jeremiah Samarrippas added 11 points and Dennis Ogbe grabbed eight rebounds.
K-State 67No. 8 Florida 61
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Will Spradling had 16 points and five assists, including one that set up Shane Southwell’s 3-pointer in the closing minutes, and Kansas State beat No. 8 Florida 67-61 on Saturday night.
Rodney McGruder added 13 points and Jordan Henriquez had nine points and five blocks for the Wildcats (9-2), who watched a 10-point halftime lead evaporate before clamping down against one of the nation’s top defensive teams and then pulling away in the final minutes.
Patric Young had 19 points for the Gators (8-2), including two with just over 2 minutes left that got them within 58-55. But that’s when Southwell knocked down his 3 from the corner, and McGruder made two free throws with 1:05 left to create some breathing room.
Kansas State held on from the foul line for its first regular-season, non-conference win over a top 10 team since defeating No. 8 Minnesota on Dec. 21, 1981.
West Virginia 72Radford 62
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Aaric Murray scored 23 points, a career high in a West Virginia uniform, and the Mountaineers defeated Radford 72-62 for their second straight nonconference victory Saturday afternoon.
The 6-foot-10 junior, who transferred from La Salle, also had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals for his second solid outing in a row since missing West Virginia’s 81-66 loss to No. 3 Michigan on Dec. 15 because of disciplinary reasons.
Since then, Murray has tallied 35 points, 18 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks.
At La Salle, where Murray played two years before sitting out the 2011-12 season because of NCAA rules, his career high was 28 points.