So it went for Ohio State on Saturday as one of the worst shooting stretches imaginable doomed the Buckeyes to 74-66 defeat against Kansas, snapping a 39-game non-conference home winning streak. The No. 7 Buckeyes (9-2) were even colder than the 33.8 percent they shot at Duke in a 73-68 loss on Nov. 28.
While Ohio State finished 20 for 65 from the floor (30.8) percent against the Jayhawks they missed when it mattered. To wit, they were 7 for 32 from the floor (21.9 percent) for the first 19 minutes of the second half and trailed by 10 until making two of their final four attempts.
"Basketball is a simple game - get stops and put in the ball in the bucket," OSU junior Aaron Craft said. "We weren't doing either tonight and Kansas was able to do that. The worse thing we can do is overcomplicate things and look for secrets and easy shortcuts."
The strange thing is the Buckeyes started the second half like they were finally going to take control before the first sellout (19,049) in Value City Arena this season.
After a seesaw opening 20 minutes that saw the Buckeyes trail 37-37, junior Deshaun Thomas had a layup and a three-pointer to put the Buckeyes ahead 40-37 at the 18:23 mark.
Then the lid went on the bucket. By the time the Buckeyes made their next field goal - a Amir Williams layup - with 8:13 to play, Kansas (10-1) had a 53-50 lead, the closest OSU would get the rest of the way.
"(The game) changed when we didn't make shots," Thomas said. "We had great shots at the basket, three-point shooting shots, and they weren't falling. We weren't making shots and they were executing at the other end."
"That was as high a level a basketball you're going to find at this time of the year," OSU coach Thad Matta said. "I said before the game Kansas, maybe with the exception of Illinois my first year, may be the best team that came in here."
Thomas topped the Buckeyes with 16 points but was doubled teamed for much of the game and took only 11 shots, hitting four.
Sophomore Shannon Scott had a career-high 15 points off the bench in addition to six rebounds, four assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 25 minutes.
"It comes down to you've got to put the ball in the basket in a game like this," Matta said. "We couldn't do it and it became contagious throughout."
The first half was entertaining with haymakers thrown by heavyweights befitting their rankings.
Kansas landed the first punches with the 7-footer Withey providing the early points (five) as the Jayhawks raced to seven-point advantage, 16-9.
The Buckeyes countered with Scott and Amir Williams off the bench for a thunderous 14-0 run and an eight-point lead - 31-23 - with six minutes left before McLemore helped the Jayhawks outscored the home team 14-4 to go ahead 37-35 at halftime.
McLemore led the ways with 13 points, including a three-pointer for 35-34 lead with 55 seconds remaining in the half and a sky-walking slam 22 seconds later before Craft made the first of a one-and-one to complete scoring.
Scott had 10 points, three rebounds and assists and a steal in only 12 first-half minutes and did not enter the game until the 14:37 mark with the Buckeyes trailing 11-6 and ignited the rally.
"In the first half I don't know if they ran off of misses; I think they ran off of turnovers," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We did a miserable job taking care of the basketball. That's one of the things we have to get a lot better at – handling the ball under pressure." They did so in the second half while the Buckeyes were never able to connect on their long-range shooting, making only 2 of 18 three-pointers (11.1) percent to finish the game 8 for 31 (25.8 percent) beyond the arc.
"Coach Self is all about defense and we showed that today," Withey said. "We shut down their best scorer (Thomas). When they went on their run, we have a good group of vets that have been in this situation before that could talk to the young guys and tell them to calm down and focus on defense. It all starts on defense."
The Buckeyes lost for the seventh time in 11 meetings against the Jayhawks as well as a chance for some redemption for losing to them twice last season, including a two-point loss in the Final Four.
In the first meeting 54 weeks ago Kansas claimed a 78-67 victory in Allen Fieldhouse in a game that the Buckeyes played without injured two-time All-American Jared Sullinger.
The rematch took a different tenor with Sullinger in the lineup for the national semifinal on March 31 and the Buckeyes took a nine-point halftime lead but couldn't hold on in the 64-62 defeat.
"I don't think we have anybody's number," Self said. "Today's probably the best we've played against Ohio State in three games."