Here's who's hurt, who's out and who's hobbling as Ohio State hosts Penn State
When Ohio State emerged from Saturday’s 12-point win at Wisconsin on Saturday, it faced an eight-day layoff before resuming Big Ten play. It was going to be a welcome reprieve for a number of Buckeyes as they continued to battle injuries, some of which prevented them from practicing.
Those plans lasted less than 24 hours. Sunday, the Big Ten moved Ohio State’s postponed game against Penn State to Wednesday, giving the Nittany Lions a game after their scheduled game for Michigan on that same date was postponed when the Wolverines had their program shut down due to COVID issues.
It’s life in the middle of a Big Ten season in the middle of a pandemic. Tuesday afternoon, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann updated the status of a handful of players who are all dealing with various injuries. Here’s a rundown:
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Jimmy Sotos, Ibrahima Diallo out
Ohio State will again be without a pair of reserves for the Penn State game. Sotos, who has missed the last four games, and Diallo, who has missed the last 11, will both be unavailable against the Nittany Lions.
Sotos is dealing with a shoulder injury suffered in a January 9 win at Rutgers. Diallo sprained an MCL during practice before the Big Ten opener at Purdue on December 16.
“Ibrahima is still out with an MCL,” Holtmann said. “Has not returned to practice. Jimmy Sotos is still out with a shoulder injury and neither guy will play in this next game.”
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CJ Walker still healing
Ohio State’s fifth-year senior point guard missed four games with torn ligaments suffered in his right, non-shooting hand. Walker suffered the injury during the preseason and played through it until the pain forced him to shut it down following a January 3 loss at Minnesota.
He came off the bench against the Badgers, finishing with eight points, two rebounds, three assists, two turnovers and one steal in 23:57. Holtmann said he came out of the game feeling good.
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“It’s always going to be a pain tolerance (situation),” he said. “Could there be a situation where it’s bothering him or it gets hit and he has to play less? That will ultimately be his call. I’ll really need to take my cues from him on how he’s feeling. The torn ligaments, they’re not completely healed, but he was anxious to come back, as we knew he would be.”
Seth Towns, Kyle Young battling
A pair of key players who have been dealing with long-term injury situations have been missing practice time in recent weeks.
Young has battled lower-leg injuries for the last two seasons and has occasionally worn a walking boot after games this season on his right leg. Towns missed the last two seasons at Harvard with a knee injury and did not make his Ohio State debut until a December 19 game against UCLA in Cleveland, the seventh game of the year for the Buckeyes.
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“The tough thing for (Seth) is he can’t consistently practice right now, and neither can Kyle Young because of dealing with injuries,” Holtmann said. “The tough thing has been trying to, as a coach, figure out what they can and can’t do physically, Seth more than Kyle.”
Young played 25:10 against the Badgers and finished with eight points and four rebounds. Towns came off the bench and scored 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 16:36 despite having days leading into the game where he couldn’t practice.
“We weren’t sure he was going to play,” Holtmann said. “I think that’ll be the case until he gets a full offseason of complete rehab.”