Through 13 games, things were obviously looking pretty good for the Ohio State men’s basketball team. Then that 12-1 team hosted No. 8 Michigan State, lost a double-digit lead and faltered in the final minutes of what would become an 86-77 loss January 5.
Now with a Friday home date with Maryland looming, the Buckeyes have lost three straight starting with that win by the Spartans and are searching for answers on a number of fronts. Keeping in mind that the rigors of Big Ten play are obviously more significant when compared to non-conference play, here are some statistical comparisons between the first 13 games of the season and the last three for Ohio State for the eight most-used players on the roster – C.J. Jackson, Musa Jallow, Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington Jr., Andre Wesson, Kaleb Wesson, Keyshawn Woods and Kyle Young.
No player has a positive plus-minus rating
It stands to reason, given that Ohio State has been outscored by a collective 22 points, but none of the eight is better than even during these three games. Both Jackson and Kaleb Wesson are even, while Muhammad is a team-worst minus-30 after going plus-166 in the first 13 games (he missed one due to injury). That number had been third-best on the team.
Woods, who was second on the team at plus-173 (just behind Kaleb Wesson at plus-174), is second-worst in the last three games at minus-27.
Free throws are drying up
During the three games, Young, Washington Jr. and Jallow have not attempted a single free throw. Jackson and Woods, the two primary ball-handlers for the Buckeyes have each attempted only two.
Kaleb Wesson’s percentages in the two stretches are 73.4 and 68.8. His brother’s percentage is down from 74.1 percent to 70.0. Muhammad’s percentage has risen from 61.5 percent to 80.0.
Fouls are up
Save for Jallow, every player is committing more fouls than during the first 13 games.
Jackson’s jump is the most pronounced, more than doubling from an average of 1.8 per game to 3.7 during the last three games. Kaleb Wesson is averaging a team-high 4.3 during the last three games, an increase from 3.1 during the first 13.
Jallow has committed just one during 34 minutes across the three games.
Woods is in a funk
The graduate transfer from Wake Forest has seen a significant drop-off in every category save for free throws, given that he’s only attempted two. Woods is shooting 20.0 percent from the floor compared to 45.6 percent through the first 13 games and 14.3 percent from three compared to 36.4 percent, grabbing 2.0 rebounds compared to 3.2 and committing 3.0 fouls compared to 2.2. His assist average has dropped from 3.4 per game to 2.0 while his turnover average has climbed from 1.0 to 1.7.
After averaging 8.4 points through the first 13 games, Woods has averaged 3.0 in the last three.
Jackson is taking better care of the ball
He was taken out of the starting lineup against Iowa, but this three-game skid has seen Jackson hand out more assists and cut down on his turnovers. His average assists per game increased slightly from 3.8 to 4.0 while his turnovers have dropped from 2.4 per game to 1.7.
He’s also shooting roughly the same from three-point range – 41.3 percent for the first 13 games, 41.1 percent in the last three.
Muhammad’s scoring is up while his percentages are down
The freshman guard averaged 9.3 points during the first 13 games but has averaged 10.7 in the last three even as his shooting percentage dipped from 48.2 percent to 35.7 percent.
Life is harder for Kaleb Wesson
In addition to the more-frequent foul calls, the sophomore center has seen his shooting percentage drop from 54.4 percent to 47.1. His rebounds are up from 6.8 per game to 7.0, his turnover average is the same (2.3) and his average assists dipped slightly from 1.6 to 1.3 per game.
Young, who is on pace for the most-proficient shooting season in Ohio State history, has shot 83.3 percent during the last three games.