Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Ohio State v Michigan

Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross can be a breakout player in 2012-13

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Every year there are players who use the summer camp circuit as a springboard into the following season.

But in most cases, those players are coming off of a season in which they received a solid amount of playing time.

So what’s the ceiling of a player who wasn’t cleared to play until December, and once cleared he didn’t see much playing time?

That’s the question for Ohio State sophomore wing LaQuinton Ross, who is a counselor at the LeBron James Skills Academy and has the talent to be one of the nation’s breakout players in 2012-13.

His freshman campaign wasn’t a wasted one, but for a player considered to be one of the best high school players in the country it was a missed opportunity to further assist a team that would go on to reach the Final Four.

“I practiced two times before having to go back home,” remarked Ross to on Saturday. “It definitely helps me out [to have a full off-season of work].”

A 6-7, 228-pound wing from Jackson, Mississippi, Ross could never get into the flow of things with the Buckeyes following his return. He played in just nine contests, averaging 3.9 minutes and 2.0 points per game.

With William Buford and Jared Sullinger both moving on, Ross is one of the players who will have to step up if Thad Matta’s team is to remain among the elite both in the Big Ten and nationally.

And by the looks of things, Ross is on his way to having that kind of influence.

He’s shown the ability to score in a variety of ways this weekend in Las Vegas, and playing against some of the nation’s best wings should prove beneficial once the season begins.

“I just want to get out there and help the team win,” said Ross when asked about his goals for this season. “We came close last year and some people are already counting us out, but we’re faster and more athletic than we were last year.”

Due to his late start in Columbus, Ohio State fans have not seen anything near the best of what Ross has to offer.

The experiences of this summer will go a long way towards making sure that isn’t the case in 2012-13 as well.

“The whole city [of Columbus] has been waiting to see what I can do,” remarked Ross. If he’s able to give the people what they want to see, Ohio State will have a chance to reach the same heights as the 2011-12 team.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.