LAS VEGAS (UK Athletics) – 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 Buckeyes (11-1) played with Duane Washington Jr., their second-leading scorer, limited to eight minutes due to a rib injury and had a hard time shaking the Wildcats in a physical game.
Kentucky (8-3) kept Ohio State within reach despite a poor-shooting second half before the Buckeyes stretched the lead to seven with 1:17 left. The Buckeyes made four straight free throws in the final 18 seconds to prevent Kentucky from mounting a comeback.
Wesson also had eight rebounds before fouling out with 3:30 left.
Nate Sestina scored 17 and hit five 3-pointers, and Tyrese Maxey added 15 points for the Wildcats.
Ohio State moved to No. 1 after winning its first nine games. The Buckeyes became the latest No. 1 and done in a parity-filled 2019-20 season, dropping to No. 5 after 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.
But, just as it did against Utah, Kentucky found a way to keep it close, rallying from seven down to pull within 55-54 with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Ohio State made a late push to go up seven and hit enough shots and free throws down the stretch to keep Kentucky at bay.
Ohio State has bounced back from its lone loss of the season with a blowout over Southeast Missouri and a neutral-site win over a college basketball blue blood.
Kentucky went 0 for 2 in loss Vegas and clearly has a few issues to work out with the SEC season about to start.
Ohio State plays West Virginia in Cleveland on Dec. 29.
Kentucky hosts rival Louisville next Saturday.