Expectations for Chris Holtmann’s first season at Ohio State are to experience plenty of ups and downs. There will be times when the Buckeyes look really good, and there will be plenty of times when they look like the worst team in the Big Ten, too. They have the talent, but given that Holtmann and his staff were brought in in June, it will take a little while to get the roster and players that they want and need. Somehow, although he only had a few months to do so, Holtmann was able to sign the best recruiting class in the Big Ten in 2017. But given the recruiting classes over the last few years, one good one will not just turn things around right away.
That rollercoaster of a season was most apparent and perfectly illustrated this past week, when Ohio State blew their second-straight double-digit second-half lead to lose to Clemson in Columbus and then answered that by blowing out Wisconsin in the Kohl Center just three days later. Let’s take a look at both games:
Buckeyes blow double-digit second-half lead, lose in disappointing fashion to Clemson, 79-65
It was a tale of two halves inside Value City Arena for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchup between Ohio State and Clemson Wednesday night, one that the Tigers took, 79-65.
After Holtmann announced that students could get into the game for free, it was supposed to be a loud, excited crowd. At least that was the case in the first half. The Buckeyes took an early 24-11 lead just over eight minutes into the game after Keita Bates-Diop had 10 of those points and almost outscored the Tigers by himself.
Then, much like teams have done so far in this early season, Clemson decided to switch to a zone on defense and Ohio State’s offense sputtered. It was almost as though they weren’t sure how to score against a zone defense at times.
With the Buckeyes not being able to score, Clemson went on a quick 10-0 run, cutting the lead to 24-21 four minutes later. The scarlet and gray were able to recover though, taking a 37-30 halftime lead.
Holding a 51-44 lead with 13:27 remaining, Ohio State allowed Clemson to score the 15 of the next 17 points the next four minutes and the Tigers never looked back. Whether it was turnovers or their inability to shoot from long distance, the Buckeyes couldn’t do much to stop Clemson from falling back into a zone defense. They had nine turnovers in the second half alone.
It was the second straight game that Ohio State had blown a double-digit second-half lead to go on and lose the game, the first being their game against Butler in the PK80.
Bates-Diop (21 points, five rebounds, one assist, one block) and Kaleb Wesson (15 points, five rebounds, one assist, one block) led the Buckeyes, who had just eight points from their bench players.
Along with turning the ball over 14 times, the Buckeyes shot a dismal 8-of-16 from the free-throw stripe. When you can’t shoot a team out of a zone, you have to at least make your free throws. They did neither.
Ohio State plays about as perfect as they could, shock the Badgers in Wisconsin, 83-58
It doesn’t matter how good your team is, you can’t play much better than the Buckeyes did Saturday night at Wisconsin, at least offensively. Ahead of the Big Ten football championship Saturday night in Indianapolis, the Buckeyes and Badgers went against one another on the basketball court and the scarlet and gray put on quite a show for fans looking for the Buckeyes to sweep the Badgers both on the court and the field.
Whether it was their almost-perfect offense or just having better players, Ohio State dominated Wisconsin away from home, 83-58.
Like many teams that have to play at Wisconsin, Ohio State has struggled in the Kohl Center for quite some time. That wasn’t the case Saturday night.
Following two straight games where they blew double-digit second-half leads, the Buckeyes didn’t allow that to happen on Saturday. They took an early 12-3 lead six minutes in, 20-8 lead eight minutes in, 30-16 lead 12 minutes in, and eventually a 49-26 halftime lead and never looked back.
With Jae’Sean Tate getting the start at point guard, Ohio State went a perfect 7-for-7 from beyond the arc. That paired with the fact that Wisconsin started just 5-of-17 from the field allowed the Buckeyes to take a 23-point halftime lead in a first half that saw Ohio State be virtually unstoppable offensively.
Wait, Ohio State just scored 49 points and shot 78 percent from the field in the first half *at* Wisconsin? I don’t care how bad the Badgers may be this year, that’s impressive.
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) December 2, 2017
If the game wasn’t somewhat over already, Ohio State went on a 12-2 run early in the second half to take a 35-point lead and all but notch the win with plenty of time remaining on the clock.
Wesson not only dominated offensively, but he also did very well defensively as well. He was faced with the tough task of guarding Ethan Happ, arguably the best center in the Big Ten. His defense, with the help of double- and even triple-teams every time Happ touched the ball held the big man to just seven points, six rebound, two assists, and two steals while turning the ball over four times.
While Wesson did very well defensively, the Buckeyes dominated as a team offensively. 10 Buckeyes scored and the only player who saw the court and didn’t score was Micah Potter, who played just three minutes. Wesson (19 points, three rebounds, one steal, two blocks), Bates-Diop (17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block, Jae’Sean Tate (16 points, three rebounds, four assists, four steals), and C.J. Jackson (10 points, three rebounds, two assists, led the Buckeyes in double digits.
Wisconsin isn’t even close to being as good as they’ve been recently, but that doesn’t mean Saturday night’s win in Wisconsin isn’t a very good one for Ohio State.
Coming up this week:
Monday vs. Michigan, 6:30 p.m. ET
Saturday vs. William and Mary, 12 p.m. ET