Ohio State men's basketball | Lineup analysis: How the Michigan State loss unfolded

Adam Jardy
Fans wait for a free-throw in the second half of the NCAA men's basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at Value City Arena in Columbus on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. [Tyler Schank]

For mostly 36 minutes, the No. 14 Ohio State men’s basketball team played No. 8 Michigan State to a stalemate Saturday afternoon at Value City. But by the end, foul troubles and injury forced the Buckeyes into some less-desirable lineup decisions that in part helped allow the Spartans to pull away.

“I probably had too much youth on the floor in the last 4-5 minutes,” coach Chris Holtmann said afterward. “We were a little bit limited with C.J. (Jackson)’s issues, but looking back on it if I was to make a change maybe I would try to get more experience on the floor. Hopefully it will help us moving forward and hopefully we’ll be able to execute better than we did there late.”

Here’s how Ohio State found itself in such a position late in the game.

*The first substitution of the game was Kyle Young for Andre Wesson. The second was Wesson returning to the game in place of C.J. Jackson with 14:48 left, which was an abnormally early sit for the senior save for situations where he’s been pulled for turning the ball over.

*Tied at 16 midway through the first half, Holtmann went with a three-guard lineup featuring Jackson and the two freshmen, Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. They teamed with Young and Kaleb Wesson for only the second time all season, and in 2:26 this lineup gave Ohio State its first lead of the game at 24-23.

*The Buckeyes closed the first half with a flourish, and they did it with a seldom-used lineup. After Jaedon LeDee picked up his second foul in 45 seconds, he was removed with 3:39 to play and Michigan State ahead 29-28. After the media timeout, Holtmann sent out a lineup of Jackson, Washington, Musa Jallow and the Wesson brothers. That group had played a combined 3:08 across three prior appearances this season, outscoring its opponents 5-1. This time, it closed out the final 3:39 with a 15-7 run to take a 43-36 lead into the break.

*It was back to the starters for the second half, but Jackson came out with 17:21 left in the half. Kaleb Wesson did, too, in part because he picked up two fouls in the span of five seconds against Nick Ward, moving him to three for the game.

*Jackson came back in with 15:25 to play, and a lineup of him with Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Keyshawn Woods and Young was outscored 5-2 in 51 seconds before Jackson came out for Washington and Holtmann swapped Wesson brothers.

*Jackson returned again with 12:52 remaining and the lead at 54-53. Then with three fouls, Muhammad checked out 12 seconds later and the lead at 55-53.

*With 11:13 left and the lead at 59-58 after a media timeout, Holtmann went back to the lineup that closed the first half with a run. This time, in 1:45, it gave up a Kyle Ahrens dunk and a Cassius Winston free throw to give up the lead, and Jackson came out with 9:28 to play and Michigan State ahead 61-59. He was replaced by Muhammad.

*That lineup of Muhammad with Jallow, Washington and the Wesson brothers lasted only 28 seconds before Kaleb picked up his fourth foul with exactly 9:00 to play and was removed from the game.

*Holtmann replaced him with Young, and Woods replaced Jallow. Trailing 62-59, it was this lineup of Woods, Muhammad, Washington, Andre Wesson and Young that kept things close for the next 2:45 with a modest 7-6 scoring advantage.

*Kaleb Wesson then reentered the game for Young with 6:15 to play and Michigan State ahead 68-66. This was the starting lineup save for Jackson, who was replaced by Washington, and it played the Spartans to a 6-6 stalemate during the next 2:47 before Jackson replaced Washington with 3:28 to play and the score 75-72 in favor of Michigan State.

*This was the starting lineup, which to this point had been outscored 8-5 in only 5:11. It would only remain together for another 1:36 before Kaleb Wesson picked up his fifth foul with 1:52 and Michigan State ahead 77-72. Likely out of a need for offense here, Holtmann replaced him with Washington, giving him four guards – Jackson, Muhammad, Woods and the freshman – with Andre Wesson.

*It wouldn’t last. Jackson subbed out with 1:07 to play and would not return.

*Holtmann did some offense-defense substitutions here. Washington subbed out for Jallow on defense, and the opposite was true on offense.

*Then Andre Wesson fouled out with 51 seconds to play and Michigan State leading 79-73. Jallow replaced him and, with the outcome essentially decided, Holtmann brought freshman Justin Ahrens in with 51 seconds to play in the game against his older brother.

*In all, Ohio State had to use a season-high 21 different lineups. Two of them were new, but totaled no more than a minute combined.

*From an individual plus-minus standing, Luther Muhammad was a season-worst minus-15. Duane Washington was the only player in the positive at plus-1.

*In Big Ten play, Kaleb Wesson leads the Buckeyes at plus-34. Washington is plus-33 and has the most game-high plus-minus ratings this season with four.


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