How Ohio State played its first game without Andre Wesson

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Buckeyes forward Alonzo Gaffney (0) competes for a rebound with UMass Lowell River Hawks forward Allin Blunt (15) during the first half of Sunday's NCAA basketball game at Value City Arena in Columbus on November 10, 2019. Ohio State won the game 76-56.[Barbara J. Perenic/Dispatch]

The loss of senior Andre Wesson to injury figured to force Ohio State men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann to significantly juggle his rotation. How much, and what that would look like, wouldn't be known until after Sunday's game against UMass Lowell.

The Buckeyes easily bested the River Hawks, winning by a 76-56 final that wasn't as close as the score even indicates. Here's how the game unfolded.

• Holtmann went with a three-guard lineup to open the game as Duane Washington Jr. replaced Wesson, joining a quartet consisting of CJ Walker, Luther Muhammad, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson. The group was only on the court for the first 54 seconds of the game, however, as Young picked up two quick fouls and came out with the game scoreless. This lineup did not see action together in the season opener.

• Young was replaced by freshman E.J. Liddell at 19:06, and this group got some decent run. In the next 3:35, it outscored UMass Lowell 7-6 in spite of another cold offensive start that saw the Buckeyes take nearly 3½ minutes to score their first points.

• Freshman Alonzo Gaffney made his Ohio State debut at 15:31, checking in with classmate D.J. Carton in place of Liddell and Walker, respectively. This group was outscored 4-2 in 2:05 before Holtmann, showing he's not afraid to play someone with two fouls during the first half, reinserted Young in place of Wesson at 13:26 with the River Hawks leading 10-9. This was another three-guard lineup, one with Carton, Muhammad and Washington at guard and Gaffney and Wesson in the frontcourt.

• A lineup of Carton, Washington, Ahrens, Liddell and Wesson pushed the lead to 10 points at one point with a 3:06 shift that saw the Buckeyes outscore the River Hawks 8-5 leading into the under-8 timeout.

• The first lineup to be reused was the lineup of Walker, Muhammad, Washington, Liddell and Wesson. It came into the game with 6:31 left in the first half and the lead at 25-18 and quickly pushed it to a 29-18 Ohio State lead before Gaffney replaced Wesson with 5:23 left.

• That brought about Holtmann's youngest lineup to this date: Walker, Muhammad, Washington, Gaffney and Liddell. That's a junior transfer, two sophomores and two freshmen. It didn't last long: a scoreless shift of 1:38.

• At the half, the Buckeyes held a 38-25 lead and had used 10 lineups. Seven of them were three-guard lineups.

• The second half opened with the same starters as the first, and this time it got a much better run. The starters played for the first 5:01 and outscored UMass Lowell 12-5 to build a 20-point lead. When Holtmann made subs after the under-16 timeout, the lead was 50-30 and the game was basically over.

• Here's another lineup of a junior, two sophomores and two juniors: Carton, Washington, Ahrens, Gaffney and Wesson. In 2:04, it was outscored 3-0.

• A lineup of Walker, Carton, Ahrens, Gaffney and Wesson pushed the lead to 29 points with a 9-2 run in just 1:49. Wesson then subbed out with 7:23 to play and didn't return. Liddell replaced him.

• This marked the first time this season that three freshmen were on the court together. In the next 1:23, this lineup scored three points and allowed three.

• Freshman Ibrahima Diallo made his debut when he replaced Carton with 6:00 to play, which again kept three freshmen on the court together. This lineup would play for 1:35 before walk-on Danny Hummer checked in, scoring two points and allowing two.

• In all, the Buckeyes used 16 lineups of scholarship players and not one of them had been used against Cincinnati. Fifteen of those lineups played for at least one minute, and no lineup played together for longer than 5:55. That was the starting lineup.

• Eight of the 15 lineups to play more than one minute consisting solely of scholarship players were three-guard lineups. That accounted for 60.5 percent of the time that scholarship players were on the court.

• With only scholarship players, the Buckeyes played 25.8 percent of the game with a traditional lineup of two guards, two forwards and a center.

• Two lineups tied with a game-high plus-7 rating: Ahrens, Carton, Gaffney, Walker and Wesson in 1:49 and the starters in 5:55.


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