Already in need of some offense, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann brought a depleted roster to the court Tuesday against Nebraska. Shortly before the game, Holtmann announced suspensions to sophomore guards Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr.
Their absences gave the Buckeyes only two available scholarship guards for the game, but they still built a lead as high as 25 points and won comfortably 80-68. Without them, though, Holtmann had to get creative with his lineups, even playing senior walk-on Danny Hummer during the first half.
Here’s a look at how it all unfolded.
• CJ Walker and D.J. Carton started at the two guard spots with Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson filling out the lineup. This group had appeared in five games this season, playing for 13:38 and scoring 28 points while allowing 26. In Big Ten play, it played for 6:29 and been outscored 13-5.
• Owing to the shorter bench, Holtmann didn’t make any substitutions in this game for the first 6:30. That’s roughly double the length of time he waits to make his first changes. E.J. Liddell gave Young a breather with the Buckeyes ahead 9-7 and 13:30 remaining in the first half. Ohio State never trailed again.
• This lineup of Carton, Liddell, Walker and the Wessons had a 6-0 run in 1:49 leading into the under-12 timeout when Young gave Kaleb Wesson a break with the lead at 15-7.
• Walker was the first guard to get a breather. With 7:16 left in the first half and the lead up to 24-13, Justin Ahrens and Young replaced Walker and Liddell.
• This lineup of Ahrens, Carton, Young and the Wessons played together for 1:32 in the season opener and hadn’t appeared since. Against Nebraska, with Ahrens serving as the default shooting guard, this lineup logged 2:32 and outscored the Cornhuskers 6-4.
• Carton got his first break of the game with 4:44 left in the half and was replaced by Walker. Senior walk-on Danny Hummer also entered the game here. It’s the first time Hummer has logged significant minutes in a game, and this lineup of Ahrens, Hummer, Liddell, Walker and Kaleb Wesson was even, scoring and allowing three points in 2:04 before Carton returned and Hummer checked out.
• Freshman Alonzo Gaffney entered the game for the first time with 25 seconds left and the lead at 36-25. This was another new lineup, and it got an Ahrens jumper at the buzzer to set the halftime score at 38-25.
• It was back to the starters for the second half, but they didn’t get quite as long of a shift. Liddell replaced Young only 1:52 into the half with the lead up to 46-28 after an 8-3 run.
• The Buckeyes rotated big men in the early minutes. Liddell replaced Young at 18:08. Young relieved Kaleb Wesson at 16:15. Kaleb Wesson relieved Liddell at 15:23. At that point, it was a 50-36 Ohio State lead.
• Gaffney saw earlier action in the second half compared to the first. With the starters on the court, he replaced young with 12:32 to play and Ohio State ahead 54-40. This lineup of Carton, Gaffney, Walker and the Wessons had a 9-3 run in 2:17 before Ahrens replaced Andre Wesson.
• The Buckeyes lead reached a game-high 25 points with a lineup of Ahrens, Carton, Gaffney, Liddell and Walker on the floor. Things would get a little more sloppy from here.
• With 4:06 to play and the lead at 73-56, Andre Wesson replaced Ahrens and the starters were back on the court together. They would close out the game and be outscored 12-7 the rest of the way to set the final at 80-68.
• The starters played a total of 15:09 together, scoring 28 points and allowing 26. This was the most playing time for a starting lineup in a single game this season.
• Ohio State had at least one Wesson on the court for all but 107 seconds of the game.