By the numbers: What's wrong with Ohio State?
There is a difference in the medical field between treating the cause of a disease and the symptoms. The former helps the patient return to full health by curing the problem, while the latter provides some relief but ultimately doesn't treat the cause for the issue.
Having lost five of its last six games after starting the season at 11-1, something is ailing the Ohio State men's basketball team as it prepares for Thursday's home game against Minnesota. There are a number of factors at play, from timely injuries to key players to the start of Big Ten play to a widespread crisis of confidence that has seemingly affected the team's offense.
Keeping that in mind, it's worth looking at the statistics for the last six Buckeyes games and comparing them to the first 12 games of the year. None of these numbers really illuminate whatever the root cause is of this current skid, but they do help provide a picture of what is ailing Ohio State and what isn't.
Here's what the numbers say:
Kaleb Wesson is scoring more and doing less from three-point range
In the first game against Penn State, Wesson hit 4 of 6 threes and finished with a season-high 28 points to help power a lopsided victory. Afterward, Nittany Lions coach Pat Chambers said they weren't sure he could hit more than one or two per game and wound up being burned by that approach.
Time has validated Chambers' thoughts, even if he paid for it that night. Wesson shot 46.2 percent from three during the first 12 games but is down to 33.8 during the last six, and his average attempts per game have climbed slightly from 3.3 to 3.5.
And yet, Wesson is scoring more. The junior averaged 13.9 points through the first 12 games but has put up 16.2 through the last six games as the offense has struggled overall. He's also taking slightly more of the team's shots at 20.1 percent compared to 16.3 percent during the first 12.
Three-point defense is down
Teams are finding more success against the Ohio State defense, and it's especially been evident from three-point range. The last six teams to play the Buckeyes have shot 43.4 percent from the field after Ohio State held its first 12 opponents to 35.2 percent.
Those numbers are buoyed by better three-point shooting. After holding teams to 29.3 percent three-point shooting through 12 games, the Buckeyes are allowing teams to shoot 40.4 percent from deep in their last six games. Entering Monday night's games, those six teams had a combined three-point shooting percentage of 31.5 percent.
Easy looks are drying up
The increased length of the Big Ten is impacting Ohio State's ability to finish at the rim. The Buckeyes are connecting on 42.4 percent of their two-point field goal attempts, down from 55.0 percent through the first 12 games.
Not surprisingly when offensive production is waning, the same goes from three-point range. Ohio State shot 33.8 percent from three during its last six games after shooting 40.9 percent through the first 12.
Andre Wesson is surging
After a loss at Maryland on Jan. 7, which was the third game in this six-game stretch, Andre Wesson said he was doing everything he could as the lone scholarship senior on the roster to help prevent a third-straight loss.
The statistics back up the effort. His scoring has climbed from 8.3 points through 12 games to 10.7 during the last six, a stretch that has seen him emerge as his team's most accurate shooter. Wesson is shooting 53.5 percent overall during these six games and 56.5 percent from three, both of which are team-best numbers.
Both Wessons are actually shooting exactly 50 percent on two-point field goals during the last six games: Kaleb is 22 for 44 and Andre is 10 for 20 inside the arc.
A new emphasis might be in store for D.J. Carton
While filling in for coach Chris Holtmann on Monday's weekly radio show, assistant coach Ryan Pedon said the Buckeyes might start playing freshman D.J. Carton off the ball more in an effort to utilize him more as an attacker and less as a decision-maker.
Here's a stat that might illustrate that thought process: After turning the ball over 26 times during the first 12 games, Carton has 23 turnovers in his last six games.
Complicating things, though, is the fact that Carton is struggling to finish inside the arc. He shot 63.5 percent on two-point field goals during the first 12 games but only 29.0 percent during the last six.
Kyle Young hasn't been the same
Without the efforts of Kyle Young, the Buckeyes probably lose their season opener at home to Cincinnati. Instead, the junior forward put up 14 points and 13 rebounds while generally using his athleticism and physicality to impact the game through effort.
When he had similar showing in the early going, Holtmann cautioned against expecting such production to continue once Young started running into bigger frontcourts when conference play took off. That, plus the appendectomy he underwent Dec. 29 that cost him two games and still has him on the path to a full recovery, has limited the impact of a player who can help mitigate the types of offensive slumps that have helped sink the Buckeyes.
He hasn't been able to be that in this stretch. After averaging 8.8 points through the first 12 games, which would be a career-high, Young is averaging 3.3 points during the last six games. A put-back here and a high-flying dunk there each game would go a long way toward helping the Buckeyes fight through some offensive woes.
Duane Washington's efficiency has dropped
In Duane Washington, the Buckeyes had a sophomore who emerged through the early part of the season as a legitimate second scoring threat alongside Kaleb Wesson. Both as a starter and off the bench, Washington averaged 11.1 points while shooting exactly 50.0 percent from three-point range during the first 12 games.
In the last six games, of which Washington only played five due to a one-game suspension, Washington has upped his average while shooting at a lower clip. Washington has averaged 11.8 points during the stretch while shooting 36.0 percent from three. He attempted 3.8 three-point shots during the first 12 games but has averaged 5.0 during the last six.
Ohio State's primary ball handlers have had lower assist-to-turnover ratios
Junior CJ Walker and Carton both had more assists than turnovers through the first 12 games. Walker was at a better-than-two-to-one ratio, handing out 45 assists with 21 turnovers, while Carton had 35 assists and 26 turnovers.
In these last six games, Walker has 11 assists and 11 turnovers while Carton has 20 assists and 23 turnovers.