The suspension of fifth-year senior guard Kam Williams forced No. 17 Ohio State to get creative right from the opening tip Sunday against Illinois. Coach Chris Holtmann elevated Andre Wesson to the starting lineup as the small forward, essentially moving Jae’Sean Tate to the point and C.J. Jackson to shooting guard with Keita Bates-Diop at power forward and Kaleb Wesson at center.
It was a lineup that had never been used all season. It’s the second time this season Ohio State started a previously unused group and the first since the third game of the season, when it went with a lineup of Jackson, Musa Jallow, Tate, Bates-Diop and Micah Potter against Texas Southern. That group went plus-22 in that game, outscoring their opponents 50-28 in 20:21.
Here’s how the lineups shook out against the Fighting Illini:
*Those starters played the first 5:23 of the game before Andrew Dakich replaced Kaleb Wesson, moving Bates-Diop to center. Illinois led at that point, 15-11.
*With 11:46 to play in the first half and the Illinois lead at 24-13, Holtmann brought Potter and Tate in for Andre Wesson and Bates-Diop. That group had appeared together twice all season, totaling only 2:##. Against Texas Southern, it put together a quick 7-0 run. Against Illinois, it was outscored 6-4 as the deficit climbed to 30-17 with 9:37 to play in the half.
*The Buckeyes cut the deficit to nine points, and after a media timeout with 7:04 to play Holtmann put his starters back into the game. This time, they pulled the Buckeyes back even at 30-all with a 9-0 run covering only 2:11.
*Jallow replaced Andre Wesson with 4:57 to play, and the lineup of Bates-Diop, Jackson, Jallow, Tate and Kaleb Wesson only managed one field goal in the next 3:17 thanks to four turnovers: two by Bates-Diop, one by Jallow and another by Jackson. That group attempted only two shots, both by Wesson, and he converted the second one. Entering the game, that group was minus-11 for the season in only 5:58.
*The same starters opened the second half and played until 14:05 remained and the lead had been trimmed by two points to 42-40. Dakich replaced Jackson, putting together a lineup of Bates-Diop, Dakich, Tate and the Wessons that had played a combined three seconds together all season. Against Illinois, it scored four points and allowed two before a pair of substitutions with 12:46 to play.
*Illinois reclaimed the lead with a quick 5-0 run against a lineup that only spent 22 seconds together: Bates-Diop, Dakich, Jackson, Tate and Andre Wesson.
*With 7:41 to play and Ohio State trailing 56-52, Bates-Diop replaced Andre Wesson to join a lineup with Dakich, Jackson, Tate and Kaleb Wesson. It was the last substitution that wasn’t Wesson for Wesson.
*The final seven substitutions of the game were Andre and Kaleb Wesson replacing each other and joining with Bates-Diop, Dakich, Jackson and Tate. Here’s how the lineups finished:
-The Andre Wesson lineup was minus-8 (11 points scored, 19 allowed) in 6:45. This lineup was primarily used for defense.
-The Kaleb Wesson lineup was plus-13 (16 points scored, 3 allowed) in 4:06 and was primarily used in offensive situations.
*The Andre Wesson lineup entered the game plus-21 for the season. The Kaleb Wesson lineup entered the game plus-14 for the season.
*For the game, the starting lineup was plus-3 (28 points scored, 25 allowed) in 13:29. It was the only previously unused lineup.