The biggest question about how Ohio State would replace Micah Potter in its lineup rotations seemed to point to a bigger role for freshman Jaedon LeDee.
Wrong. The correct answer was three-guard lineups. In Wednesday night’s season-opening win at Cincinnati, the Buckeyes used 13 different lineups starting with C.J. Jackson, Luther Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson. Of those 13 lineups, 10 of them featured three of the following four players: Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington Jr., Jackson and Woods.
Video! The #Buckeyes make their way onto the court in front of the #Bearcats student section. pic.twitter.com/MdEBZoSohd
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) November 7, 2018
Here’s what a deeper look at the lineups from the game tells us.
Down 3-0 at 17:56, Kaleb Wesson picked up a foul after turning the ball over and was taken out of the game. Holtmann replaced him with guard Keyshawn Woods, giving the Buckeyes their first three-guard lineup of the season. He joined Jackson and Muhammad in the backcourt with Andre Wesson at power forward and Young at center.
It didn’t last long, though, when Andre Wesson picked up a second foul only 38 seconds later and was replaced by his younger brother. That kept a three-guard lineup on the court now with Young at power forward and Kaleb Wesson at center.
Down 3-2 at the first media timeout, Holtmann stuck with a three-guard lineup. Freshman Duane Washington replaced classmate Muhammad and Musa Jallow came on for Young, making him the power forward with Kaleb Wesson at center and both Jackson and Woods in the backcourt with Washington. In 2:56 it gave Ohio State the lead and outscored Cincinnati 5-3 before Jackson got his first break.
The first lineup to be repeated came onto the court at 10:06 with Ohio State ahead 12-8. Jackson and Woods were joined by Muhammad in the backcourt with Young and Kaleb Wesson in the paint.
The two freshmen guards first saw time on the court together with 4:00 to play in the first half and Ohio State ahead 18-13. They were in the backcourt with Jackson while Andre Wesson and Young manned the paint. In 1:55 together, the group had a 4-2 scoring edge. The three guards would stay together, too, when Holtmann flopped Andre Wesson for Jallow at 2:05 with the lead at 22-15.
That group closed the half together with a 5-3 edge to give Ohio State a 27-18 halftime lead. In doing so, the starters only played the first 2:04 together.
They opened the second half together, and it was a different story. Holtmann didn’t make a second-half substitution for the first 6:04 when Washington and Woods came in for Muhammad and Andre Wesson with the Buckeyes lead at a game-high 41-25 after a 14-7 run to open the half.
It was another three-guard lineup, then, with Jackson and Woods joined by Washington in the backcourt with Young and Kaleb Wesson in the post.
With 12:07 left and Ohio State ahead 41-30, Jackson committed a turnover that Cincinnati turned into two foul shots on a fast break. He was removed from the game with the lead at 41-31 for Andre Wesson, giving the Buckeyes a lineup of Woods, Washington, Jallow and the Wesson brothers. However, Andre Wesson would pick up his fourth foul with 11:48 to play and he was removed for Young as Jackson would sit for a while
The lineup of Woods, Washington, Jallow, Young and Kaleb Wesson stemmed the tide with an extended 5-0 run to push it back to a 14-point lead with 9:32 to play. This was a crucial point of the game.
Jackson didn’t return until 7:52 remaining with the lead at 46-34, and things didn’t get dicey until about five minutes were left. Muhammad’s three-pointer made it a 55-39 lead with 5:23 to go, but he was called for a technical and Holtmann replaced him with Washington at 5:22.
The lineup of Jackson, Woods, Washington, Andre Wesson and Young struggled as Cincinnati got momentum. It was a 6-0 Bearcats run against this group before a media timeout at 3:54 with the lead down to 55-45, and Holtmann subbed Muhammad back in for Washington and Kaleb Wesson for his brother.
It was down to a seven-point Ohio State lead with 1:53 left when Woods was replaced by Andre Wesson to bring the starters back on the court, but Cincinnati clawed closer and pulled with 60-56 with 59 seconds to play when Woods came back in for Andre Wesson as Ohio State had the ball out of a timeout. Jackson scored on a layup to essentially seal the result.
*Ohio State’s starting lineup totaled 9:02 and outscored Cincinnati 16-15. The same lineup save for Woods in place of Andre Wesson played 9:01 and outscored the Bearcats 18-10. These might be Holtmann’s 1 and 1A lineups.
*Ohio State played 28:26 of the game with a three-guard lineup.
*The Buckeyes used 15 lineups of recruited scholarship players in last year’s season opener.