Analysis: Which lineups paved the way for Ohio State beat Indiana?

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell (32) watches his three pointer go into the basket against Indiana Hoosiers during the first half of their game at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on February 13, 2021.

No. 4 Ohio State won its sixth straight game when it beat Indiana, 78-59, on Saturday afternoon at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes led the Hoosiers for 35:48, were ahead by as many as 23 points and held a double-digit lead for the final 12:56.

For a ninth straight game, coach Chris Holtmann went with a starting lineup of Justin Ahrens, Justice Sueing, CJ Walker, Duane Washington Jr. and Kyle Young. In Big Ten play, that group entered the game having scored 162 points and allowing 138 (plus-24) in 79:16.

Here’s how the game went.

*The starters played longer than usual to open the game, going the first 5:23 and building a 9-6 lead before Zed Key replaced Young with 14:37 left. Thirty-seven scoreless seconds later, CJ Walker replaced Sueing.

*This lineup of Ahrens, Key, Liddell, Walker and Washington had not appeared in Big Ten play and had only played 1:01 against Morehead State in the third game of the year. Here, they put together a 5-0 run in the next 1:37 as part of a larger, 19-0 run for the Buckeyes.

*With 11:57 left in the half and the lead up to 17-6, freshman Meechie Johnson Jr. and grad transfer Seth Towns both entered the game for the first time. This lineup of Johnson, Key, Sueing, Towns and Walker hadn’t played together all year. In the next 2:10, it outscored the Hoosiers 4-1 as the Buckeyes pushed their lead to 21-9 with 9:47 left in the first half and Liddell replaced Key.

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*This was also a lineup debut, and it was outscored 7-6 in the next 3:17 when Johnson and Towns came out with 6:30 to play and the lead at 27-14.

*This lineup reunited the opening-game starters, who did not play together in last Monday’s win at Maryland. Indiana whittled the lead down a little bit here too, outscoring the Buckeyes 6-4 in the next 2:22 to make it a 31-20 Ohio State lead with 4:08 to play when Musa Jallow replaced Walker.

*After being down by double digits, Indiana got as close as five during the first half and was within 34-28 with 1:03 when the Buckeyes went with a lineup of Key, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington. They would close with a 4-0 run to take a 38-28 lead into the half.

*It was back to the same starters for the second half, and they would again get some significant run. In the first 3:56, they would see their 10-point halftime lead cut to seven as Indiana outscored the Buckeyes 8-5.

*Walker replaced Ahrens and Key replaced Liddell here as Indiana would hang around. That lineup would play for 1:08, score two points and allow two before the next lineup of Key, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington was outscored 4-2 in the next 1:30 to make it a 47-40 Ohio State lead with 13:26 left.

*With the lead at 50-40 and 12:39 to play, freshman Gene Brown entered for the first time. The lineup of Brown, Liddell, Walker, Washington and Young outscored Indiana 5-3 to extend the lead to 55-43 with 9:56 left. Brown’s minutes here would normally go to Ahrens.

*The Buckeyes would finally blow it open with a lineup that took the court with 9:04 to play consisting of Ahrens, Key, Sueing, Walker and Young. In 14:07 of playing time this season, this lineup was plus-5 (30 points scored, 25 allowed). Here, it would remain together for the next 2:36 and turn a 57-44 lead into a 70-50 one with a 13-6 run.

*The lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young would essentially salt it away, playing for the next 4:06, scoring eight points and allowing six before the Buckeyes made a host of changes and brought walk-on Harrison Hookfin into the game with 1:22 to play.

*The starters were the most-used lineup, totaling 10:19 of playing time. They scored and allowed 14 points.

*The opening-game starters entered the night dead even in Big Ten plus-minus (88 points scored and allowed) in 51:26. Against Indiana, this lineup scored 15 points and allowed 12 in 7:15.

*The best plus-minus for this game went to the lineup of Ahrens, Key, Sueing, Walker and Young, which was plus-7 (13 points scored, six allowed) in 2:36.

*Holtmann used 13 different lineups of scholarship-only players, his lowest total among the last eight games.

*For the season, Young still leads the Buckeyes in individual plus-minus at plus-184. He also leads the team in Big Ten play at plus-113.