The mind-set of a coach means that, even after having completed the most challenging stretch of games he’s ever experienced, Chris Holtmann has a hard time appreciating the moment.

Monday night, Ohio State played its sixth game in 11 days and came from 20 points down to beat Michigan and improve to 2-0 in Big Ten play. It came barely 48 hours after handing Wisconsin its worst loss at the Kohl Center and making Holtmann the first Ohio State coach to win his first two conference games since Randy Ayers in the 1989-90 season.

With just one more marquee game on the schedule before the resumption of Big Ten play in January, though, now is as good a time as any to assess where the Buckeyes are in Holtmann’s first season. Before the season began, Holtmann professed an enjoyment for analytics and pointed out that “typically you need to have an eight- or nine-game sample size before you can have a serious sense of what potential issues would be for your team.”

At 7-3 overall after having played the nation’s 69th-hardest schedule according to the advanced analytics of, the Buckeyes are ranked No. 59 nationally.

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“I think maybe as important as anything is our players have been able to see success,” Holtmann said. “I think that’s important for a new coaching staff, a new group, early in the season just for them to feel like some of the things we’re working on and communicating can be successful if we stay committed to that. Certainly that could’ve been questioned after a couple of rough games, but when you have people like Keita (Bates-Diop) and Jae’Sean (Tate) leading the way, that ties our group together.”

Ohio State is ranked No. 52 nationally in defensive efficiency and No. 66 in offensive efficiency. The former has been a primary emphasis from Holtmann since he took the job.

“Once you’re getting stops and getting out in transition and getting to running, the game’s more fun for us, the game’s more fun for the crowd and it puts less pressure on our defense because defense is what we hang our hat on,” fifth-year senior Kam Williams said after the Michigan game.

But a key number: The Buckeyes are turning the ball over on 20.2 percent of their possessions, 229th nationally. In both of the last two seasons, they finished 227th. Holtmann has already benched point guard C.J. Jackson for being careless with the ball, saying after the Michigan game that he was trying to send a message to the junior.

The Buckeyes remain a work in progress. But regardless of what is to come, they can say they were tied atop the Big Ten standings for a month this season.

“You’re only as good as you play on a given night and if our effort on Saturday (against William & Mary) isn’t what it needs to be, then that’s on us,” Holtmann said.