Las Vegas — Ohio State slid in for charges and blocked shots, dove on the floor for loose balls, jumped into passing lanes for steals.
Doing all the little things was just what the Buckeyes needed in-game that felt like late March, not late December.
D.J. Carton had 13 points, Kaleb Wesson added 12 before fouling out and No. 5 Ohio State outlasted No. 6 Kentucky 71-65 in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday.
“The counterpunches, teams going back and forth for a 40-minute grind is what we try to talk about at the beginning of the game,” said Wesson, who also had eight rebounds before fouling out with 3:30 left. “I feel like we went out there with that mindset and that mentality and came out with a win.”
The Buckeyes (11-1) and Wildcats (8-3) locked into a physical game befitting two top-five programs, trading shoves, elbows and body checks.
Ohio State played with second-leading scorer Duane Washington Jr. limited to eight minutes due to a rib injury, so other players had to fill the void. Carton had the ball in his hands most of the second half and delivered, hitting a 3-pointer to put Ohio State up seven with 1:17 left.
CJ Walker hit another 3 to keep Kentucky at bay and the Buckeyes hit four straight free throws in the final 18 seconds to knock off a top-10 team for the third time this season.
“I think we played fearless in those games. I think that’s important for your guys to play loose and fearless, understand it’s not going to be perfect,” Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said. “You’ve got to have players that are gutsy enough to do that. I thought we responded to the emotion of the game.”
Kentucky did not shoot particularly well and had no one outside of Nate Sestina who could consistently hit an outside shot.
Just as they did in a loss to Utah Wednesday in Las Vegas, the Wildcats found a way to keep the game within reach.
But, just like the Utah game, Kentucky could not finish it off, leading to an 0-for-2 trip out West.
Sestina scored 17 points and hit five 3-pointers, and Tyrese Maxey added 15 for the Wildcats.
“We put ourselves in a position to win the game, but we just didn’t pass the ball,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “We’re opening up the court to drive people because everybody will collapse and when they did collapse, we shot it anyway. We’re still learning.”
Ohio State moved to No. 3 after winning its first nine games and was poised to move to No. 1 before losing at Minnesota.
Kentucky opened the season at No. 2, moved to No. 1 after beating Michigan State and fell from the top spot with a surprising home loss to Evansville. The Wildcats already played one game at T-Mobile Arena this week, losing 69-66 to Utah after rallying from a 17-point deficit.
Kentucky has struggled at times with its shooting and had a hard time finding the perimeter mark in the first half – except for Sestina. The graduate transfer from Bucknell matched his season total with by going 3 for 6 from 3 while his teammates went a combined 0 for 7.
Young had 10 points to give Ohio State a 37-36 halftime lead.
Sestina hit a couple of early 3s in the second half, but the rest of the Wildcats continued to clank, going four minutes without a field goal.
Kentucky still found a way to keep it close, rallying from seven down to pull within 55-54 with 6½ minutes left.
The Wildcats had their chances down the stretch, but repeatedly drove into the lane for contested shots. spoiling any chance of pulling out a Las Vegas split.
(At) No. 18 Villanova 56, No. 1 Kansas 55: Jermaine Samuels hit a 3-pointer with 20.5 seconds left and No. 18 Villanova beat No. 1 Kansas, making the Jayhawks the latest top-ranked team to fall this season.
The Jayhawks (9-2) had moved up one spot to become the fifth team to top the poll this season. It is the first time the AP poll has had five school at No. 1 before New Year’s Day; the record for a season is seven in 1982-83.
Unlike Duke and Louisville which lost to unranked teams, Kansas lost to a traditional national power that has had its number in recent seasons. The Wildcats (9-2) finally nudged ahead in a back-and-forth game.
Samuels scored 15 points and Collin Gillespie had 12 for Villanova.
Devon Dotson led Kansas with 15 points, and Udoka Azubuike had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
(At) No. 2 Gonzaga 112, Eastern Washington 77: Filip Petrusev had 24 points and nine rebounds to help Gonzaga beat Eastern Washington, clearing a path for the Bulldogs to become the sixth top-ranked team in the nation so far this season.
Gonzaga has reached No. 1 several times in recent years, including twice last season.
Admon Gilder scored 22 points and Ryan Woolridge added 15 points for Gonzaga (13-1), which has won five straight games since falling to Michigan in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Zags have won 30 straight home games, the longest streak in the nation.
Jacob Davison scored 17 points and Tyler Kidd added 16 for Eastern Washington (7-4).
(At) No. 8 Oregon 84, Texas Southern 78: Payton Pritchard led a late surge to help Oregon escape an upset scare against Texas Southern.
Pritchard scored 29 points, 16 of them in the final 4:44 as the Ducks (10-2) finally got the lead and held it. Will Richardson added 18 points.
Chris Baldwin had 27 points for the Tigers (3-8), who a year ago posted an 89-84 victory over the Ducks, then ranked 18th. Tyrik Armstrong added 21 points.
(At) No. 11 Memphis 77, Jackson State 49: Precious Achiuwa had 20 points and nine rebounds and DJ Jeffries added 13 points to help Memphis beat Jackson State.
Memphis (10-1) weathered 28 turnovers by shooting 55% when it wasn’t throwing away the ball or mishandling passes. The teams combined for 53 turnovers.
Tristan Jarrett led Jackson State (3-9) with 20 points.
(At) No. 12 Auburn 74, Lehigh 51: Austin Wiley had 14 points and 15 rebounds for Auburn, at 11-0 the only unbeaten Power Five program and one of four undefeated teams in the country.
Auburn led 27-20 at the half and pulled away from there. J’Von McCormick scored 18 points, hitting three straight 3-pointers to put the game away.
Jordan Cohen led Lehigh (3-8) with 18 points. Evan Taylor had 13.
Colorado 78, No. 13 Dayton 76, OT: D’shawn Schwartz nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, McKinley Wright IV scored a season-high 29 points and Colorado beat Dayton in overtime.
The Buffaloes (10-2) trailed by 14 in the first half, led by eight in the second and came away with the win after Obi Toppin hit a tying 3 in the final seconds of regulation for Dayton (9-2).
Schwartz scored 20 points. Wright finished one point shy of his career high and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the Buffaloes win their third in a row. Jalen Crutcher led Dayton with 19 points, and Toppin had 17.
St. John's 70, No. 16 Arizona 67: At San Francisco, Nick Rutherford scored on a driving layup with 1:03 remaining, Julian Champagnie added a free throw with 0.2 second left and St. John’s beat Arizona in the Al Attles Classic.
LJ Figueroa scored 21 points and Rasheem Dunn added 14 to help the Red Storm (11-2) win their seventh straight. The last two have come without injured scoring leader Mustapha Heron.
Zeke Nnaji had 24 points and 11 rebounds for Arizona (10-3). Nick Mannion added 19 points.
(At) No. 17 Butler 70, Purdue 61: Bryce Golden scored 14 points and Butler used relentless defense to pull away from Purdue in the Crossroads Classic.
The Bulldogs (11-1) have won two straight since losing at No. 11 Baylor.
Trevion Williams led Purdue (7-5) with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Boilermakers have lost two of their last three games and two straight in the event that brings Indiana’s four best-known programs to Indianapolis for a December doubleheader. Indiana beat Notre Dame 62-60 in the opener.
No. 19 Florida State 66, South Florida 60: Florida State used smothering defense to overcome a 10-point deficit in the final seven minutes and beat South Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic.
The Seminoles (10-2) forced 24 turnovers, including seven as they outscored the Bulls 19-3 down the stretch. Florida State forced four shot-clock violations and won despite being outrebounded by 14 and shooting only 40 percent, including 7 for 27 from 3-point range.
RaiQuan Gray had 11 points, seven rebounds and three of Florida State’s 13 steals. Anthony Polite, Trent Forrest and M.J. Walker also scored 11 points apiece. Michael Durr had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Bulls (6-6).
No. 20 San Diego State 80, Utah 52: Malachi Flynn scored 16 points and San Diego State remained one of the nation’s four unbeaten teams with the victory over Utah in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center.
Yanni Wetzell and Nathan Mensah added 14 points apiece for the Aztecs (12-0). They are off to the second-best start in program history.
Timmy Allen led Utah (9-3) with 21 points.
(At) No. 21 Tennessee 75, Jacksonville State 53: Jordan Bowden scored 19 points and Tennessee beat Jacksonville State to give Volunteers coach Rick Barnes his 700th career victory.
Barnes improved his record to 700-367 record in 32 seasons at George Mason (1987-88), Providence (1988-94), Clemson (1994-98), Texas (1998-2015) and Tennessee (2015-present). He’s the seventh active coach with 700 career Division I wins.
After the game, fifth-year senior guard Lamonte’ Turner announced that he has thoracic outlet syndrome and will undergo season-ending surgery. Turner has been bothered by shoulder problems the last few years.
John Fulkerson added 16 points for Tennessee (8-3).
Ty Hudson scored 11 points for Jacksonville State (4-8).
(At) No. 24 Texas Tech 68, Texas-Rio Grande Valley 58: Freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey scored 15 points in his return after missing four games with a hamstring injury, and Texas Tech overcame another sluggish start.
the Red Raiders (8-3) extended their nonconference home winning streak to 53 games.
Quinton Johnson II led the Vaqueros (4-8) with 17 points and seven rebounds.
No. 25 West Virginia 75, (at) Youngstown State 64: Oscar Tshiebwe scored 19 points and Derek Culver added 15 for West Virginia.
West Virginia (10-1) scored the final eight points to seal its third straight win since its loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.
Darius Quisnenbery had 22 points for Youngstown State (7-6).