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Buckeyes lose their touch and a game, 74-66

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Buckeyes lose their touch and a game, 74-66

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Moments after No. 7 Ohio State's 74-66 loss to ninth-ranked Kansas on Saturday night, coach Thad Matta was asked about his team's awful shooting.

He answered by making a crack that was closer to gallows humor.

``I asked Santa for Christmas to improve our jump shooting,'' he said.

Maybe he'll get that gift. But it sure didn't arrive early.

The Buckeyes misfired again and again - occasionally when they were unguarded, standing wide open on the perimeter - in losing to the Jayhawks (10-1).

Ohio State shot just 31 percent (20 of 65 from the field) for the game, losing despite getting 16 more attempts. In the second half, with the game on the line, the Buckeyes made only 9 of 36 shots (25 percent), including a critical 10-minute span in which they didn't have a field goal.

Kansas plays good defense. On this night, it was hard to determine how much of the misfires were attributable to the Jayhawks' defense and how much to an Ohio State team that has had difficulty making shots all season.

``(Kansas) didn't really do anything special,'' said Deshaun Thomas, who led the Buckeyes with 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting. ``We didn't make shots. We had great shots at the basket.''

Thomas, Shannon Scott (who had a career-high 15 points) and point guard Aaron Craft were asked if the Buckeyes had ever had a span in a practice or a game in which they had so much difficulty making a simple field goal.

``Not really,'' said Craft, who was 2 for 9 shooting.

The Buckeyes (9-2) ran off a 14-0 spurt in the first half against the Jayhawks to turn a six-point deficit into an eight-point lead. They did it by getting points in transition, forcing turnovers that led to layups and making the shots that they did get.

``They weren't getting back on defense,'' Scott said. ``We hurried down and we got some easy layups. The second half they started getting back on us, so it was hard to get layups.''

Everything was harder in the second half, it seemed.

``There was one point in the second half where I turned to the bench and I said, `Hey, let's call a play where we score,''' Matta said.

Thomas' 3-pointer with 18:25 left gave Ohio State a 40-37 lead. The Buckeyes' next basket - Amir Williams' bucket inside off a Thomas assist at the 8:15 mark - cut the Kansas lead to 53-50.

In 19 possessions, they were 0 for 12 from the field with two turnovers, scoring eight points on foul shots.

Ahead 56-52 with 7 minutes left, Kansas pulled away thanks to its brilliant leading scorer. Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore hit a pair of foul shots and then flipped in a 15-foot jumper that bounced not once, not twice, but three times before falling through. Off an inbounds pass, McLemore then came off a back pick and dunked to push the lead to 62-52 with 5 minutes left.

The Buckeyes never got closer than six points again.

``We knew we had to play obviously better than we did tonight,'' Matta said.

Sam Thompson was 3 for 10 and one of those buckets was a layup. Evan Ravenel went 0 for 2, Lenzelle Smith Jr. made just 3 of 13 shots, Scott was 5 of 12, LaQuinton Ross 1 of 5 and Amir Williams 2 of 3.

Almost half of the Buckeyes' shots were behind the arc, too. They made 8 of 31 3-pointers (26 percent), meaning they were only 12 of 34 closer in (35 percent).

``We knew they were going to shoot 3s, we didn't know they were going to shoot that many,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ``They became a jump-shooting team, and that helped us.''

Now the Buckeyes have one more tuneup before opening Big Ten play on Jan. 2 at home against Nebraska.

Craft was asked what he had learned about his team against Kansas.

``We came out battling. We didn't really back down,'' he said. ``The worst thing we can do is to overcomplicate things and try to look for secrets and easy shortcuts. It comes down to getting tough, getting the stops when we need to and making shots when we need to. They did that tonight, and we didn't.''

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley

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That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley

Back in high school, the newest Washington Wizard Troy Brown was an athletic freak. So much so that Brown dunked over the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III.

Playing at Centennial High School from Las Vegas, Nevada, the 15th overall pick went straight at the dominating 6-11 Bagley and posterized the man.

Now from the other side: 

Although both were merely kids at the time (an each a few inches shorter), still you cannot question the confidence and athleticism of the Wizards' top pick. 

Heck, Brown is still athletic.

Now Oregon never got the chance to play Duke this past season, but Brown will get two chances for another poster on his wall with Bagley now on the Sacramento Kings. 

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Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”

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