Thirty seconds into KU’s trip to Value City Arena, Elijah Johnson dropped the ball off to freshman Ben McLemore, who splashed a long three for the game’s first points. McLemore would go on to score 22 and look like the best player on a floor loaded with stars, but he was hardly the only Jayhawk to show up in the 74-66 KU victory.
Jeff Withey had a ten-point, ten rebound double-double and starters Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford also reached double figures in a big road win for a Kansas squad that traveled for a rematch with an opponent they also beat in last year’s Final Four. Kevin Young was the only starter not to eke into double figures, but his ten rebounds against a sizeable Buckeye team were definitely valuable for a team in a pressure-packed road game against a top ten opponent.
Ohio State hounded the Jayhawks into multiple first-half turnovers, led by forward Sam Thompson’s three steals, but they could not keep up the pace in the second half. DeShaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 16 points, and guard Shannon Scott exploded for 15 as a change-of-pace option, but OSU simply didn’t get enough offense out of its starters in this game.
Kansas, with McLemore eligible to play after sitting out last season, had a few more weapons than Ohio State could muster. The game had to provide a crucial gut-check for Thad Matta’s troops as they prepare to enter a loaded Big Ten race against teams that can match or exceed the talent Kansas put on the floor in this game. With a shooting mark of 30.8% from the floor staring Matta in the face, it’s clear that more scoring options, and better defense, will be crucial points of focus in the weeks to come.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.
Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.
“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”
He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.
Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.
Memphis just cannot catch a break.
It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.
Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.
Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.
This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.
That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.