Ohio State men's basketball | Analysis: With Luther Muhammad sidelined, so are three-guard lineups

Adam Jardy
The Ohio State Buckeyes starting lineup is introduced before the NCAA basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Value City Arena on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. [Tyler Schank]

The loss of Luther Muhammad to a dislocated shoulder figured to make a significant impact to Ohio State’s lineup rotations Sunday night against Minnesota. Not only was the freshman guard averaging the second-most minutes on the team at 27.9 per game, but his availability allowed the Buckeyes to liberally play three-guard lineups alongside some combination of C.J. Jackson, Keyshawn Woods and Duane Washington Jr.

Through the first seven games, the Ohio State men’s basketball team played with a three-guard lineup for 60.2 percent of the time when using lineups composed exclusively of recruited scholarship players. Here's some analysis of how such lineups powered the way to a season-opening win at Cincinnati. How did that change against the Golden Gophers? Let’s take a look.

*The new starting lineup of C.J. Jackson, Keyshawn Woods, Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson had only played together for a combined 6:50 entering the game. The lineup appeared in two games and was minus-8, allowing 21 points and scoring 13. Against Minnesota, it got out to a 5-2 lead in the first 3:25 before Kaleb Wesson sat with his second foul.

*Jaedon LeDee replaced him, bringing a never-before-used lineup to the floor.

*The first three-guard lineup of the game followed, and it, too, was a new one. Duane Washington Jr. replaced Young, putting him on the court with Jackson and Woods with the lead at 5-4 and 15:31 to play in the first. That group scored three points and allowed one in 1:30 before Musa Jallow replaced Jackson.

*The first big run of the game came with a never-before-used lineup of Jackson, Washington, Justin Ahrens, Jallow and Young. From 11:21 until 9:27 of the first, it had a 9-0 run before Andre Wesson replaced Ahrens.

*Coach Chris Holtmann has shown he’s not afraid to play guys with two fouls in the first half. That was true again against the Gophers when he put Kaleb Wesson back in with 7:45 to play and the lead at 26-11. He came out at the 5:53 mark after a 4-3 edge for a lineup that also included Jackson, Jallow, Andre Wesson and Woods.

*Another never-before-used lineup was on the floor when Minnesota threatened to make it interesting at the end of the half. Jallow replaced Washington with 1:50 to play and the lead at 36-21, and the Gophers had a 7-3 run against the group that also consisted of Jackson, LeDee, Andre Wesson and Woods. Wesson accounted for the points with a three-point play at the end of the run.

*For the first time in my four years of doing this, we hit a wrinkle. I’ve not tracked lineups that include non-recruited scholarship players, which means guys who were walk-ons and then converted to scholarship. In essence, that has meant not tracking garbage-time minutes because they’re not really relevant for the purposes of analyzing the team’s lineups. Sunday, Joey Lane was inserted into the game for those final 27 seconds. Nobody scored, and Holtmann said it was basically due to foul trouble and a lack of bodies and did not indicate plans for a future role for Lane. With that in mind, I’m not counting this lineup.

*It was back to the starters for the second half, and they turned a 39-28 halftime lead into a 50-35 one with an 11-7 advantage during the first 4:32 before Jallow replaced Andre Wesson.

*That group came back in with 7:20 to play and the lead at 65-46. Jallow replaced Kaleb Wesson with 5:03 to play and the lead at 70-49, a 5-3 scoring edge.

*For the game, the starters scored 21 points and allowed 12 – almost the exact opposite of their numbers entering the game (13 points scored, 21 allowed).

*Ohio State used nine new lineups in this game, the third-most in a game so far this season. The season high is 14 used in the second game of the year.

*The Buckeyes played only 5:33 with three guards on the court. That accounted for 25.9 percent of the game – a decided drop-off from the first seven games of the season.


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