With the game tied in the final minutes and the momentum in South Dakota State’s corner, OSU senior guard Kam Williams came around a turn on the wing, caught a pass and immediately went up for a three-point jumper. His hand was hit on the release by freshman shooting guard David Jenkins. The ball found the bottom of the net and Williams found himself converting a very rare four-point play with 96 seconds remaining in the game.
The basket gave OSU a 74-70 lead, essentially wadding up any momentum the Jackrabbits had and throwing it in a trashcan.
After the game, Williams credited the coaching staff for calling the play, as well as his confidence that he could come through when his team needed him most.
“I give the coaching staff the credit,” he said. “They called the play for me. They had enough confidence to do that down the stretch. And as hard as I worked, my confidence is never going to be shot. So as soon as I let it go I felt like it was going to go in and it just went in. It just felt great. And everything just kind of got rolling from there.”
While it was rolling, however, it almost veered into oncoming traffic.
Following an offensive rebound late in the game, rather than pulling the ball out and burning another 20 or so of the 64 seconds remaining in the game, Williams fired up another three. Why not, he probably figured. He made the last one after all. He missed the shot, but was fouled on the attempt. He made all three of his free throws, giving the Buckeyes a very secure 77-70 lead and effectively ending the game.
“I thought Keita did a nice job screening for him, and Dakich did a nice job tipping out,” said OSU head coach Chris Holtmann. “When he gets the offensive rebound the bench is screaming, ‘Pull it out, pull it out.’ When you have a guy that can shoot it like him, I don’t know if you’re going to turn the off switch there in that moment. I was happy he took that shot and got fouled.”
In a game where the Buckeyes were never really able to put South Dakota State completely away, possessions down the stretch for OSU started to look more and more uncomfortable.
With the game tied, Williams became their best option at a good look. They were simply trying to find somebody who could make a play, and Kam Williams didn’t disappoint.
“One of the assistant coaches, Ryan [Pedon], we had a call on an action we run for him,” Holtmann explained. “We were struggling there late, we were saying, ‘Somebody has to make a play, and someone has to take an open look and make an open shot.’ And he’s that kind of a kid. He wants the ball in his hands in those moments. And he’s got that look in his eye.”
[Kam Williams photo courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com]