NCAA Tournament 2012: Lenzelle Smith, Jr. Vs. Elijah Johnson Could Be Big

A pair of matchups have garnered the majority of attention heading into Saturday's Final Four matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Kansas Jayhawks -- Jared Sullinger vs Thomas Robinson, and Aaron Craft vs Tyshawn Taylor.

Dick Vitale, for one, "cannot wait to see the showdown in the paint" between Sullinger and Robinson, while others have pinpointed the matchup between Craft and Taylor as a potential game-changer.

But while Sullinger and Robinson are both First-Team All-Americans, and while Taylor and Craft are two of the better guards in America, there is another duel that could help decide the game: Ohio State's Lenzelle Smith, Jr. vs Kansas' Elijah Johnson.

Smith, Jr., a sophomore guard, is averaging just 6.6 points per game on the season, but he went on a tear last weekend. In the Sweet 16 against Cincinnati he had 15 points off of just seven field goal attempts (he hit three of four three-pointers). He followed that up with an 18-point performance against Syracuse, once against knocking down three triples.

Smith exceeding 15 points would be huge for a team that gets virtually no scoring from the bench: The bench had two points and eight points, respectively, against Cinci and Syrcause.

Kansas has a similarly thin bench, which will make Johnson's production a must. The junior guard has had a solid tournament, hitting 9 of 20 three-pointers and reaching double-figures in each game (he averages an even 10.0 on the season). He has the ability to light it up, having scored at least 15 points in four of the last six games.

KU's top bench scorer is Conner Teahan, who averages just 5.7 points and who had zero points in 13 minutes in the regional final against North Carolina.

The Sullinger/Robinson and Craft/Taylor matchups will continue to get the press, but it could well be someone else who decides this one.

For more on the Ohio State Buckeyes, check out Along The Olentangy. You can also head over to SB Nation's main NCAA Basketball hub at SBNation.com/NCAA-Basketball.

Trending Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SB Nation Cleveland

You must be a member of SB Nation Cleveland to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Cleveland. You should read them.

Join SB Nation Cleveland

You must be a member of SB Nation Cleveland to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Cleveland. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.