Clearly the Big 10 wants nothing to do with the Kansas Jayhawks. After Kansas survived a 10 point second half deficit to defeat Purdue, they orchestrated a monumental Ohio State collapse to pull out a 64-62 victory to advance to Monday’s national championship.
Leading by as many as 13 in the second half, Ohio State fell apart at the end of the contest, allowing Kansas to utilize a 13-4 run and solid defense to steal a win. Kansas took the lead on an early Thomas Robinson jump shot that put the Jayhawks up 2-0. It was the last time they’d see a lead until the final three minutes of the game.
As the clock wound down, the game went back and forth on free throws, but two clutch free throws from Tyshawn Taylor gave Kansas a three point lead with just seconds to play. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Taylor forced a turnover, but then in haste, he threw the ball out of bounds while trying to pass out of danger to run out the clock.
Ohio State inbounded the ball to guard Aaron Craft, who was fouled immediately to prevent a long three to tie. After making the first free throw, Craft purposefully attempted to miss the second, but was called for a lane violation when he took off for the rebound before the ball touched the rim. While the Buckeyes were still arguing with the refs about the violation call, Kansas inbounded the ball in the confusion to run off the final seconds and secure the win.
Ohio State looked to be in complete control from the start, rushing to a comfortable nine point halftime lead. But then the wheels started to fall off. Deshaun Thomas, usually one of the Buckeyes hottest shooters (53 percent for the season) went ice cold from the field, going just 3-14 from the field and 1-7 from long range, including missing an open three with 10 seconds left.
As expected, Jared Sullinger and Robinson made the night memorable with their ferocious battle in the paint, but it was Kansas’ other big man that made a key difference for the Jayhawks. Center Jeff Withey, though only scoring four points, notched eight rebounds and seven blocks for Kansas, including several blocks on layups in the final two minutes to preserve the Kansas lead.
With the win, Kansas moves on to face Kentucky in the finals Monday night.