NEW YORK — Ohio State entered the weekend with a résumé that already featured five losses, including three to teams that aren’t currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament — like Memphis, UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech.
This has not been a good basketball team.
So it made sense that the Buckeyes were double-digit underdogs to the nation’s fourth-ranked team Saturday. What made less sense is what happened after tip-off.
Final score: Ohio State 74, Kentucky 67.
Yes, OSU beat UK in the second game of the CBS Sports Classic here at the Barclays Center. So the Buckeyes are now 6-5 and the Wildcats have more losses than they had all of last season when they started 38-0 before losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four.
Kentucky’s other loss is an 87-77 defeat earlier this month at UCLA.
“Obviously, it’s a big, big win for us,” said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. “These guys did a tremendous job of understanding what we were going to attempt to do.”
Ohio State led by 12 points at the half and by as many as 16 in the second half. It took a career-best performance from Jamal Murray just to get the Wildcats back close, and they actually made it a one-possession game in the final minutes before floundering late.
Murray finished with seven 3-pointers and 33 points.
Meantime, fellow freshmen Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe struggled. They combined to go 2 of 16 from the field. Labissiere finished with two points. Briscoe got three.
Kentucky’s next game is Saturday against No. 19 Louisville.
“We have to come out and understand that these teams are coming at us with their best shot,” Murray said. “They came out today … and hit us in the mouth. We weren’t able to recover until late in the game, and, at that point, it was too late.”