U.S. College basketball - Season 2017-18 - Third review (January 2018 and February 2018)

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes: 63-63, 70-70 and 78-80 after 2 OTs (played on 2018-02-23)
Score at the half: 33-33.
There were great ball movements on both sides of the court in Bloomington, Indiana on Friday, Feb. 23rd, 2018. Ohio State of Coach Chris Holtmann had a rather comfortable advantage in the middle of the first half (12-19 and even 14-26 later on). Indiana of Coach Archie Miller came back in the race a few moments later and the scoreboard showed 33-33 at the break. Both OSU talented players Keita Bates-Diop (6'7", forward, age 22) and Kaleb Wesson (6'9", forward, age 18) looked fit and well in the first half. Justin Smith (6'7", forward, age 19) had spectacular plays and dunked the ball for Indiana. He was helped by Juwan Morgan (6'8", forward, age 20) and Robert Johnson (6'3", guard, age 22), hitting crucial shots for the Hoosiers.

After a new strong start by the Buckeyes early in the second period (36-43), their opponents came back in the race mainly thanks to Josh Newkirk (6'1", guard, age 23) and freshman Aljami Durham (6'4", guard). The crowd of 17,222 enjoyed a thrilling end of game with two overtimes and a final win for No. 16 Ohio State on a last three-pointer by CJ Jackson (6'1, guard, junior) near the buzzer in the second OT of the game. In a previous play, Indiana's Juwan Morgan had spunned around OSU's talent Keita Bates-Diop in the paint and scored with seven seconds remaining.

It allowed Ohio State to finish the regular season with a 24-7 record. It was a game that featured 16 lead changes and was tied 14 times. The second OT period alone featured 8 lead changes. Also to be noted: the Hoosiers recorded a rather low free-throw average of 13/23 in this game. The Hoosiers had nevertheless outscored their guests in bench points: 32-4!

Bates-Diop played 45 minutes and was 9 of 24 from the floor with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks for the Buckeyes. Jae’Sean Tate (6'4", forward, senior) played 40 minutes and had 12 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal for Ohio State. OSU senior player Kam Williams (6'2", guard), whose jumper with just 1:39 left in the first overtime was answered by a pair of free throws by Indiana's guard Robert Johnson with 7.8 seconds left to force the second OT, also played 40 minutes in this game.

After being successful at Indiana on Feb. 23rd, the Buckeyes had to wait for the result of the game between Michigan State and Wisconsin to see if their win would be good enough to get a share of their first Big Ten title since 2011-12. The Spartans of Miles Bridges (6'7", guard/forward, age 19) won their game against the Badgers and, in the process, finished the season as the outright Big Ten conference champions.
Best scorers:
Indiana Hoosiers: Robert Johnson 17, Zach McRoberts 8, Juwan Morgan 18, Freddie McSwain 3, Justin Smith 16, Josh Newkirk 9, Alami Durham 7.
Ohio State Buckeyes: Keita Bates-Diop 24, CJ Jackson 13, Kamerom Williams 15, Jae'Sean Tate 12, Kaleb Wesson 12, Micah Potter 4.
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Baylor Bears: 70-67 (played on 2018-01-20)
Score at the half: 38-27
I watched  this game broadcasted on YouTube and observed rather closely Belgium's national team player Manu Lecomte (5'11", guard, born in 1995 and ex-Dexia Mons-Hainaut) who has had an excellent season (16 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 0.7 steal per game) and Mark Vital (6'5", forward, freshman), a young prospect -- excellent at dunking -- whom I had seen in action at the U20 World Tournament in Tourcoing, France in 2014 (read full report at: http://berthoop.blogspot.be/2014/07/25th-u20-world-tournament-in-tourcoing.html), both playing for the Baylor Bears. Other players on KU's side were also to be watched: Devonté Graham (6'2", guard, senior) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (6'8", guard, born in 1997) who had scored an average of 37.7 combined points per game in KU's previous 8 games. The scoreboard quickly showed 6-0 for Kansas, forcing Baylor's coach Scott Drew to quickly take a first time-out. Kansas scored 3/3 from three-point range to make 16-3 a few moments later. Malik Newman (6'3", guard, sophomore) had been fantastic for the Jayhawks and set the fans at the Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas on fire! KU's Ukrainian player Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk dunked the ball after getting past his defender Mark Vital.

Aussie talent Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (7'0", forward, senior), Mark Vital and Manu Lecomte brought the Baylor Bears back in the race at 20-13. Jake Lindsey (6'5", guard, junior) made 20-15 for the Bears but Svi Mykhailiuk hit a three-pointer to make 23-15 for Kansas a few seconds later. With more or less 7 minutes remaining in the first half, Devonté Graham also looked fit and made 28-17 on a spectacular three-point field goal. There were many free-throws missed on both sides, except for Malik Newman who remained concentrated from the line: 38-27 for the hosts at the half.

Back from the locker rooms, the Jayhawks pushed hard and scored the first basket in a spectacular way via their strong Nigerian player Udoka Azubuike (7'0", center, sophomore). He ended the first half in a nice way too. Baylor came back mainly thanks to nice efforts made by Vital and Lecomte: 40-33. The duel between the two big men Udoka Azubuike and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. was nice to watch: 44-37. Mark Vital's bucket at 44-39 gave some extra energy to the Bears, forcing Kansas' experienced coach Bill Self to take a time-out. Baylor got closer and closer (46-43 and 47-45). Azubuike played well again and Graham raised his level of play despite not being able to help the Jayhawks dig a larger gap: 52-47 with 8:30 left in the game. The Bears came back again at 53-51 and even 54-53 with Nuni Omot (6'9", forward, sennior) being successful from the line. Later, Omot still hit free-throws and offered the Bears the lead at 54-56 with 5:30 remaining on the clock. The scoreboard showed 56-59 for the guests when entering the money time and even 56-61 when Bill Self asked for a new time-out. The large crowd attended a very thrilling game. The Bears were still on top with 3 minutes left despite a nice basket by Malik Newman. He nailed another jumper and a bonus to make 64-67 with only 2 minutes remaining. Efforts made by Baylor's Belgian guard Manu Lecomte did not pay off anymore... It was Newman's momentum. He scored again: 66-67 with 1:31 left on the clock and a time-out taken by Scott Drew this time! Malik Newman continued the job and, in fastbreak, finished a nice action to make 68-67. Lecomte controlled the ball but missed a three-point attempt for the Bears. On the next play and with only 17" left in the contest, Kansas' center Azubuike was sent to the free-throw line but missed both shots from there. Manu Lecomte was still given a chance to offer Baylor a win but he missed the lay-up after a nice combination in offense. A foul was then called against Baylor and Devonté Graham converted two free-throws: 70-67. On the very last play, the Bears lost the ball and Kansas could eventually celebrate. Malik Newman scored 12 of KU's last 14 points in the game.
Best scorers;
Kansas Jayhawks: Udoka Azubuike 14, Devonté Graham 15, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk 7, Malik Newman 24, Lagerald Vick 5, Marcus Garrett 5.
Baylor Bears: Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. 14, Mark Vital 9, Tristan Clark 6, King McClure 8, Manu Lecomte 10, Terry Maston 2, Nuni Omot 14, Tyson Jolly 2, Jake Lindsey 2.

(Pictures: ohiostatebuckeyes.com, USA Today Sports and Waco Tribune Herald)

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