Michael Periatt/ Asst. sports editor
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Ohio State men’s basketball needed a win against No. 13 Kansas to begin it’s 2011-12 campaign with a 9-0 record, but it was the Jayhawks who chalked up the win Saturday.
A measurement of the noise level on the video board inside Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse read just more than 111 decibels, and the home team gave its supporters every reason to continue cheering as Kansas (7-2) beat No. 2 OSU (8-1), 78-67.
The Jayhawks scored first and after the Buckeyes tied the game at two, opened a 9-2 lead just 4:11 into the game.
Kansas got contributions early in the contest from 6-foot-10 junior forward Thomas Robinson, who took advantage of OSU sophomore forward Jared Sullinger’s absence, scoring seven points in the first half.
Sullinger suffered back spasms during the team’s Nov. 29 win against Duke and missed last Saturday’s 64-35 win against Texas-Pan American.
Saturday marked the first time that Sullinger missed consecutive games in his OSU career.
Kansas went on a 9-2 run to extend its lead to 23-13 with fewer than eight minutes to play.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by OSU sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas and a rim-rattling dunk by freshman center Amir Williams silenced the raucous Jayhawks supporters as the Buckeyes climbed to be within five points at 26-21.
Thomas helped OSU stay in the game, eventually scoring 15 first-half points on 5-of-8 shooting.
As is customary when Kansas is playing well at Allen Fieldhouse, the silence was short lived.
A dunk by Kansas junior forward Kevin Young brought the few fans were seated to their feet, with just more than four minutes to play and restored the Jayhawks’ 10-point lead.
Kansas eventually took a 35-29 lead into half. The Jayhawks’ 35 points were the most allowed by the Buckeyes in the opening period since VMI scored 44 in the first half of a Nov. 23 game.
New Kansas football coach and four-time Super Bowl champion Charlie Weis was introduced at halftime and addressed the crowd saying, “Let’s whoop Ohio State’s butt.”
The butt-whooping would follow in the half to come.
Kansas opened the second half by hitting four 3-pointers with junior guard Elijah Johnson hitting three of them. A one-handed dunk by Robinson helped give the Jayhawks a 52-44 midway through the period.
OSU senior guard William Buford scored just four points and was just 1-of-7 shooting in the first half, but had accumulated 14 points with under nine minutes remaining to help to Buckeyes remain competitive.
Matta’s team trailed, 59-48, with 8:44 to play when Robinson was called for a technical foul. Buford hit the resulting free-throws before sophomore guard Jordan Sibert stole the ball and added two points to cut the deficit to seven with 8:08 to play.
The Buckeyes had the Jayhawks lead down to six points with 1:24 to play and would not go away.
Robinson hauled in two rebounds off missed OSU shots with under a minute to play, the second of which came with the shot clock unplugged. Williams attempted to foul Robinson, but was called for an intentional foul. Robinson made the ensuing free-throws to ice the game.
Robinson was subbed from the game with 11.8 seconds to play and the victory secured, and received a standing ovation. The celebration went into full-force seconds later when the clock bled out and Kansas won by the same score.
OSU will return home for a Wednesday game against South Carolina-Upstate at the Schottenstein Center. Opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m.