The absence of D.J. Carton left a void on Ohio State’s roster as it played Indiana on Saturday. Without the freshman, who had been averaging 23.9 minutes per game, coach Chris Holtmann had to mix and match his lineups in ways previously unseen this season.
The Buckeyes eschewed three-guard lineups almost exclusively, saw nearly a half-dozen combinations make their season debuts and still fended off the Hoosiers in a 68-59 win.
As Ohio State prepares to play at Michigan on Tuesday night, here’s a look at how it all unfolded.
*For a third straight game, Holtmann went with a starting lineup of CJ Walker, Luther Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson. In their prior two starts, these five were outscored 23-10 in a combined 14:59. This time, the group played the first 5:29 and held an 11-7 lead when E.J. Liddell replaced Young. In prior games, Holtmann typically made at least one substitution before or at the first media timeout, but Liddell didn’t check in until 14:31 remained, which was 1:19 after the media timeout.
*This lineup of Liddell, Walker, Muhammad and the Wesson brothers had never been used in Big Ten action. It played 67 seconds of scoreless basketball before Duane Washington replaced Muhammad.
*Walker and Andre Wesson got their first breaks with 11:18 left in the half and the lead at 15-7. At this point, the Buckeyes used a brand-new lineup consisting of Muhammad and Washington in the backcourt, Justin Ahrens on the wing and Young and Kaleb Wesson down low. It didn’t last long, though, and allowed two points in 46 seconds before Andre Wesson returned to replace Young.
*This lineup got some solid run, and after taking the court with the lead at 15-9 with 10:32 to play in the half it outscored Indiana 10-4 in the next 3:40 leading into the under-8 media timeout. It gave the Buckeyes a 25-13 lead with 6:52 to play when Walker and Liddell replaced Washington and Kaleb Wesson.
*The starters were back on the court with 4:22 to play and the lead at 27-17, but Muhammad checked out 15 scoreless seconds later for Washington.
*This gave us the end-of-the-alphabet lineup: Walker, Washington, the Wessons and Young. It played 50 scoreless seconds before Alonzo Gaffney replaced Kaleb Wesson with 3:17 to play and the lead still at 27-17.
*Gaffney’s presence made for a third new lineup of the game: Walker and Washington in the backcourt, Gaffney on the wing and Andre Wesson and Young down low. It lasted 50 seconds and traded two points before Ahrens replaced Young with 2:27 to play and the lead still at 10 points, 29-19.
*This was another lineup debut, and an intriguing one: Walker and Washington still at the two guard spots, but with the other three positions filled by Ahrens, Gaffney and Andre Wesson. It remained on the court until two seconds remained, scoring two points and allowing none. They would’ve finished the half, but Wesson turned it over with two seconds, Muhammad replaced Washington and the Hoosiers got a three-pointer at the buzzer to close within 31-22 at the break. That lineup, too, had never been used before.
*It was back to the starters for the second half, and they again went past the first media timeout. This time, Washington and Liddell replaced Muhammad and Young with 15:19 to play after matching the Hoosiers by scoring and allowing 12 points.
*Another lineup debut took the court with 9:10 to play and the lead at 52-40. Holtmann went with Walker and Muhammad in the backcourt, Ahrens and Liddell at forward and Kaleb Wesson at center. This lineup pushed the lead to a game-high 19 points when Ahrens hit three threes, and during a shift of 3:51 it outscored the Hoosiers 9-5 before Andre Wesson replaced Ahrens with 5:19 left and the lead at 61-45.
*The three-guard lineup of Walker, Washington, Muhammad and the Wessons closed the game out, playing the final 2:40, scoring three points and allowing seven to set the final at 68-59.
*In all, Ohio State debuted five new lineups, its highest total since it had seven against Southeast Missouri.
*Holtmann was able to use all three guards at the same time for only 2:40 of the game. Ohio State was outscored 7-3 when it did so. The rest of the game featured all two-guard lineups.
*Here’s how the three different two-guard combinations fared:
Walker and Washington scored 17 points and allowed 8 (plus-9) in 12:20
Walker and Muhammad scored 38 points and allowed 38 in 21:34
Washington and Muhammad scored 10 points and allowed 6 in 4:26