Redskins

Buckeyes well aware of recent history with Kansas

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Buckeyes well aware of recent history with Kansas

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) After Kansas knocked off Ohio State last season in the national semifinals, Buckeyes guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. didn't have the heart to even watch the championship game.

As this season has progressed, Smith has grown more and more excited by the looming specter of a home rematch with the Jayhawks.

``I've kind of been waiting for this game ever since our schedule got released in the summer,'' he said about Saturday's game pitting No. 9 Kansas against seventh-ranked Ohio State.

These are not the same teams from a year ago, when Kansas beat Ohio State twice. But that doesn't mean there still won't be a little edge to the game. What would you expect with the teams' recent history?

``I'm sure they have some hard feelings toward us and it is going to be a really tough environment,'' Kansas big man Jeff Withey said of the contest at Ohio State's Value City Arena. ``We haven't really been on the road yet so we'll see how the new guys react to that. But we are definitely looking forward to it.''

The 13th-ranked Jayhawks won the regular-season matchup at Allen Fieldhouse almost a year ago, taking advantage of All-America forward Jared Sullinger's absence (bad back) in a 78-67 victory over No. 2 Ohio State.

Then they squared off in New Orleans in the Final Four, with the Buckeyes leading most of the game and by 13 points before withering down the stretch to fall 64-62.

``If you look at the games last year, we didn't play them very well at all, but they guarded us. And they didn't play great, but we guarded them,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ``The difference for us was in the second half we were able to get some 3-on-2s and some 2-on-1s and was able to make six or eight easy baskets and score easy points that we didn't have to go against half-court defense.''

The game figures to be a grade card for each team.

``Kansas right now is playing at a level as high as anybody in college basketball,'' Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. ``They start four seniors. It's like, wow. Their leading scorer is a redshirt freshman. So they're a very, very experienced, seasoned team. From the standpoint of the caliber of the team that they are, obviously you're going to hopefully learn quite a bit about your team as you get ready to head into January, February and March.''

Comparisons to last year are frivolous, since the two best players on the floor are now in the NBA. Kansas' Thomas Robinson had 19 points and eight rebounds in the Final Four and now plays for pay for the Sacramento Kings.

Sullinger had 11 points and 11 rebounds but had three shots blocked by Withey in New Orleans. Currently with the Boston Celtics, Sullinger was surrounded by defenders after teammate Deshaun Thomas got into foul trouble in the semifinal.

Thomas, who pondered skipping out of his final two years to join them in the pros, is averaging 20.4 points and 7 rebounds a game. The 6-foot-7 junior never met a shot he wouldn't take - and make - which makes guarding him the biggest task for the Jayhawks.

``If you're a natural scorer like he is and averaging over 20 a game you've got the green light to shoot some good contested shots and he is good at making them,'' Self said. ``He is a shotmaker. He is a professional scorer at our level and last year we didn't stop him.''

Thomas had 19 points and kept Ohio State in it before a raucous crowd in Lawrence, Kan., a year ago.

The Jayhawks (9-1) have benefited from a comfortable schedule so far. They've had six home games in addition to three games before friendly faces in Kansas City. Their only loss came in their lone foray far from home, a 67-64 defeat to Michigan State in Atlanta.

Ohio State (9-1) dropped its biggest previous challenge, a 73-68 decision at current No. 1 Duke on Nov. 28. In that game, much like the last meeting with Kansas, the Buckeyes led most of the night but didn't make enough plays down the stretch.

Aaron Craft, Ohio State's pesky defensive whiz at point guard, believes the rematch will come down to toughness.

``Who's going to be the tougher team?'' he said. ``They do a phenomenal job of getting second-chance points, grabbing 50-50 balls, really limiting possessions. We have to find a way to overcome that, and match or better their intensity and their toughness. Because that's what Kansas basketball is about.''

Funny, but that's what Kansas also thinks of Ohio State.

``They are physical and they play that Big Ten style where they try to bully you,'' Withey said. ``They do all that really well. We've got to come ready.''

No matter who wins, both would like a redo - when the NCAA Final Four shifts to Atlanta in April.

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

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Derrius Guice continues to ingratiate himself with Redskins fans with new fundraising effort

Derrius Guice continues to ingratiate himself with Redskins fans with new fundraising effort

For most college players, being a part of the NFL Draft experience is a dream come true, but for Derrius Guice, it was becoming a nightmare. Originally projected as a first round pick, Guice saw his name falling fast on draft boards due to questions raised about his maturity and high-maintenance personality.

Two months removed from the Redskins selecting him 59th overall, Guice has erased any doubt regarding his character. Whether it be taking fans out to the movies, shooting the breeze while signing autographs, or even the occasional leap frog over two practice barrels and a trainer, Guice has ingrained himself as a Redskins fan favorite. He's done a great job at making himself popular, now he's focused on making change for others. 

On June 20th, a day before his birthday, Guice announced he would be running a fundraiser for the Mary Bird Perkins center, a cancer foundation in his hometown of Baton Rouge. Inspired by his best friend's mother who "rang that bell,"—an indication that a patient has beaten cancer—Guice wants to help others do the same. 

Guice has utilized his newfound popularity to entice other peope to donate. If you donate $5, you can play him in Fortnite. For $50, you guys can go bowling together. Anyone willing to donate $100 or more will be entered in a raffle for tickets to the Redskins Monday Night Football game against the Saints. 

If Guice can match his off the field popularity with on the field production, he'll be in contention for Rookie of the Year. Anyone interested in donating can click here

 

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Kevin Huerter's fast rise continues into draft night

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USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Huerter's fast rise continues into draft night

After two short years in College Park, Kevin Huerter is hopeful his name will be called during tonight's first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. 

The Clifton Park, N.Y. native has a chance to become the first Maryland player to be selected in the first round since Alex Len went No. 5 overall to the Phoenix Suns following his sophomore year in 2013. 

Huerter has long been consistent in his pursuit of excelling in the sport he loves. 

It began in high school, where he led Shen to its first state championship while setting the state scoring record. 

Then, as a senior, Huerter was named Mr. Basketball in the state of New York. 

From smalltown upstate N.Y. to receiving over 20 offers and ultimately signing with Maryland, Huerter never looked back. 

The 19-year-old earned a starting spot right out of the gate his freshman season averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. 

In between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Huerter was selected to the United States team for the 2017 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup coached by Jeff Van Gundy. 

Using that experience combined with an elevated offseason workout plan, he saw his production go up during his sophomore season scoring 14.8 points per game while en route to being named honorable mention All-Big Ten. 

After toying with whether or not he should leave Maryland, his father tweeted this out: 

Playing basketball with his talented younger sisters while trying to make the most difficult decision of his young life. That is Kevin Huerter in a nutshell. 

Fast forward to last month's NBA Combine in Chicago. Huerter chose to attend, seeing it as another opportunity to showcase his skills.

As a result, he saw his stock rise after showcasing his athleticism and sharp shooting, including a drill where he went 15 of 15 from 3-point range. 

According to Drew Zlogar, former teammate of Huerter's at Shenendehowa High School and current Digital and Social Content Publisher for the NBA, Huerter turned down a Barclays Center invite from the league to instead host a watch party of his own at a local country club in Clifton Park, N.Y., where he will be surrounded by family, friends and former high school teammates. 

As far as when Huerter is expected to come off the board, different scenarios continue to arise. 

If there's one thing for sure, it's that the former 3-star recruit is now an-almost guaranteed first round draft pick. 

Huerter has been known for his mild-mannered personality and cool-under-pressure aura about him in big moments. 

But the big man with a chip on his shoulder? That could be a scary thing for future opponents of the sharpshooter. 

Watch where Huerter goes in tonight's NBA Draft tonight at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.