Analysis: Which lineups worked, and which didn't, for Ohio State in win against MSU

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann greets Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo following Sunday's NCAA Division I men's basketball game at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on January 31, 2021. Ohio State won the game 79-62.

Now ranked No. 7 nationally, Ohio State won its third straight game and its first against Michigan State in three years with a 79-62 victory Sunday at Value City Arena.

Here’s how Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann substituted his players throughout the game and which lineups were particularly successful.

Fouls curtail starting lineup

*For a sixth straight game, the Buckeyes went with a starting lineup of Justin Ahrens, E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing, Duane Washington Jr. and Kyle Young. Foul issues helped limit that lineup to only 3:31 of playing time in the prior game, the least amount of playing time for any starting lineup in a single game this season. In this game, the first stoppage of play after the first four minutes didn’t come until 13:05 remained in the half and the Buckeyes held a 15-11 lead.

*CJ Walker and Zed Key replaced Washington and Liddell here, and 24 seconds later Musa Jallow checked in for Young after he picked up his second foul with the Ohio State lead at 17-14 and 12:41 remaining in the first half.

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*This lineup of Ahrens, Jallow, Key, Sueing and walker had appeared for exactly one minute all season, and it wasn’t in Big Ten play. It scored and allowed five points in the next 2:26 before Holtmann made three substitutions with 10:15 left in the half and Ohio State ahead 22-19.

Old mix redeems itself

*That gave Ohio State a lineup of Jallow, Liddell, Towns, Walker and Washington. It hadn’t appeared together in the last eight games, and its last appearance was rough. In the one-point loss at Northwestern on December 26, this lineup was outscored 15-4 in 5:36. Here, it outscored Michigan State 6-2 in the next 2:15 as Ohio State grew its lead to 28-21 with exactly eight minutes left in the half.

*Freshman Gene Brown replaced Jallow here. That lineup of Brown, Liddell, Towns, Walker and Washington had appeared in just one game this season, and here it outscored Michigan State 4-2 in 1:53 before Meechie Johnson, Jallow and Key replaced Walker, Towns and Liddell with 6:07 left and the Buckeyes ahead 32-23.

*This was a new lineup, consisting of three freshmen (Brown, Johnson and Key), a fourth-year junior (Jallow) and a traditional junior in Washington. It was outscored 5-2 in the next 1:57 before Sueing returned and replaced Brown after he picked up a foul with 4:10 left and Ohio State ahead 34-28.

*This was also a new lineup, and Jallow, Johnson, Key, Sueing and Washington got a three from Washington in the next 59 seconds before Holtmann made a pair of substitutions with 3:11 left and the lead at 37-28.

*Those subs reunited the lineup of Ahrens, Jallow, Key, Sueing and Walker, and it had a 5-0 run in the next 1:45 to push the lead to 42-28 with 1:26 left.

*With 38 seconds left, the Buckeyes put in an offense-focused lineup with Ahrens, Jallow, Key, Sueing and Washington to get their last shot of the half. Washington missed a three and Sueing missed the put-back, and Ohio State took a 42-30 lead into the break.

Starters return to open second half

*It was back to the starters to open the second half. They would play for the first 3:31 and both score and allow four points before Walker replaced Washington with 16:29 to play and the lead at 46-34. Thirty-nine scoreless seconds later, Jallow replaced Young, who had picked up his third foul.

*Another lineup debuted with 13:23 left and the lead at 48-36. For the next 1:32, Jallow, Key, Towns, Walker and Washington scored and allowed two points before Sueing replaced Jallow with 11:51 left.

*This was also a new lineup, but it only lasted 17 seconds and got a pair of Sueing free throws to push the lead to 52-38 with 11:34 remaining when Young replaced Towns.

*The opening-game starting lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young took the court with 10:54 left and outscored Michigan State 5-0 in the next 1:28 as Ohio State’s lead grew to 59-41 with 9:26 left.

*From 9:12 to 8:05, the lineup of Brown, Liddell, Towns, Walker and Washington was outscored 7-3 as Michigan State made it a 64-48 game when Jallow replaced Brown.

*This lineup of Jallow, Liddell, Towns, Walker and Washington was outscored 5-2 in the next 1:11 to make it a 66-53 lead with 6:56 left when Ahrens replaced Jallow.

Ohio State uses fewest lineup changes in 3 weeks 

*After using 10 lineups during the first half, Holtmann used 16 during the second.

*The lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young scored 12 points and allowed zero in 4:47. It played the final 3:19 of the game, salting the win away.

*Ohio State’s starters scored 19 points and allowed 15 in 10:26. In Big Ten play, that lineup is plus-28 (140 points scored, 112 allowed) in 62:43.

*In 6:27 of Big Ten play, the lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Towns, Walker and Washington has scored 18 points and allowed three (plus-15).

*Ohio State used 16 different lineups, its fewest since it used 14 in the home win against Northwestern on Jan. 13.

*Sueing led the team in individual plus-minus at plus-22, his second time either leading or tying for the team lead in that category. Washington, who only had eight points in 30 minutes, was plus-16, the second-highest mark for the game.