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.