Call it a point of contention, a sore spot, maybe a reason for insomnia.
However you classify it, the turnover issues that hindered Ohio State last season have returned in full force on a men's basketball team with significantly greater potential this season.
As the Buckeyes climbed as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press poll and No. 1 in KenPom.com national rankings, they have become undone by a rash of turnovers.
When they committed a season-high 22 Sunday in a 67-59 loss to West Virginia in Cleveland, the Buckeyes (11-2) pushed their total to 71 turnovers during a four-game stretch in which they took their first two losses.
In no four-game stretch last season, when Ohio State finished 193rd nationally in turnover percentage, did the team commit more than 66 turnovers. With Wisconsin coming to town Friday as Big Ten play resumes, the Buckeyes have a turnover percentage of 20.2, their worst in 11 seasons, and are ranked No. 212 nationally.
This on a team that ranks seventh nationally in three-point shooting percentage, sixth in effective field-goal percentage and 10th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
When West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was asked before the game what concerned him about Ohio State, he said, “They make shots. They really make shots. We knew we couldn't give them step-in shots.”
Against the Mountaineers, 12 of the 22 turnovers came during the second half as the Buckeyes made only five field goals during that span.
“They crashed the boards, they made shots toward the end of the game,” junior guard CJ Walker said after the game against the Mountaineers. “We didn't make shots toward the end, we had turnovers and we didn't execute as much as we did in the first half.”
After reviewing the game, coach Chris Holtmann said during his weekly radio show that roughly half of the turnovers against the Mountaineers were self-inflicted. The repercussions, he said, could include either taking the ball out of certain players' hands or playing at a slower pace.
Compared with last season, the turnovers committed by Ohio State's guards actually is down during the last four games, from 55.1% to 43.7%. Conversely, Buckeyes centers have committed 25.4% of the turnovers during the last four games compared with 16.9% for all of last season.
Center Kaleb Wesson leads the team with 17 turnovers during this stretch, with freshman point guard D.J. Carton next at 13. Of Wesson's 17 turnovers, seven have been on offensive fouls, a few of which were incorrect charge calls in the eyes of the coaching staff.
But the trends are troubling as the Buckeyes approach the midpoint of the season. A run at a Big Ten title and a long stay in the NCAA Tournament are realistic possibilities, if only they can get enough shot attempts to win against elite defenses. That starts with simply taking better care of the ball.
“We trust our guys with the shots they take,” Wesson said. “We just want to take good ones. When we're taking good shots and we're executing, we're fine on offense.”