Analysis: Which lineups worked, and which ones didn't, as Ohio State fell to Michigan

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Michigan Wolverines center Hunter Dickinson (1) collides with Ohio State Buckeyes forward Kyle Young (25) under the basket during Sunday's NCAA Division I Big Ten conference basketball game at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on February 21, 2021.

Winners of seven straight, No. 4 Ohio State hosted No. 3 Michigan on Sunday at Value City Arena. Under coach Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes came up short in an entertaining, 92-87 loss to the Wolverines.

Here’s a look at how it all unfolded.

*Holtmann went with the same starting lineup for an 11th straight game: Justin Ahrens, E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing, Duane Washington Jr. and Kyle Young. In Big Ten play, that lineup entered the game having scored 189 points and allowed 165 (plus-24) in 97:02. In the last two games, it had scored and allowed 14 and 13, respectively. Here, it opened up a 12-9 lead in the first 5:13 before Zed Key and CJ Walker replaced Liddell and Ahrens with 14:47 left in the first half.

*This lineup of Key, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young was plus-10 (25 points scored, 15 allowed) in Big Ten play entering the game, but it allowed a Chaundee Brown three-pointer during the next 1:55 as Michigan tied the game at 12.

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*With 12:52 left and the game tied at 12, a lightly used lineup of Ahrens, Key, Walker, Washington and Young took the floor. This group was plus-2 (17 points scored, 15 allowed) in 7:59 in Big Ten play and most recently scored 10 points and allowed 4 in 3:33 against Maryland four games prior. Here, for the next 1:57, it opened a 19-14 lead with a 7-2 run before freshman Eugene Brown replaced Washington with 10:55 to play in the half.

*This lineup of Ahrens, Brown, Key, Walker and Young had totaled 25 seconds of playing time together this season. It allowed another Brown three-pointer during a 37-second shift before a couple of changes with Ohio State ahead 19-17.

*With 10:10 to play and the score still at 19-17, the Buckeyes unveiled a new lineup with none of its true guards. This lineup of Ahrens, Brown, Liddell, Sueing and Towns was outscored 5-0 in the next 1:45 before Walker and Washington returned to replace Ahrens and Brown with Michigan ahead 22-19 and 8:25 left in the half.

*The game really opened up here. With a lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Towns, Walker and Washington on the court for Ohio State, both teams would score 12 points in the next 3:47 before Young replaced Towns and freshman Meechie Johnson Jr. entered in place of Washington with Michigan ahead 34-31 with 4:38 to play in the half.

*Twenty seconds later, it was a lineup debut with Johnson, Key, Sueing, Walker and Young as Michigan led 34-33 with 4:18 to play. With a 7-6 shift during the next 2:22, this lineup tied the game at 40 before Washington and Liddell replaced Johnson and Key with 1:56 to play in the half.

*This reunited the opening-game starting lineup, which outscored Penn State 14-9 in 4:38 the previous game. Here, it scored and allowed three points in the next 1:48 before Brown came on for Liddell for a final defensive possession with eight seconds left. Michigan would score on a layup at the buzzer to take a 45-43 lead into the break.

*Holtmann changed his starters for the second half, replacing Ahrens with Walker, and stuck with it for the first 6:51. When Key replaced Liddell with 13:09 to play, Michigan led 59-58 after the Buckeyes outscored the Wolverines 15-14 to open the half.

*The lineup of Key, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young scored the next four points during the next 2:02, giving Ohio State a 62-59 lead with 11:07 to play.

*Ahrens made his second-half debut here in place of Washington as part of a lineup that also included Key, Sueing, Walker and Young. Michigan would tie the game at 65, outscoring this lineup 6-3 in the next 2:23 before Liddell replaced Key and Washington replaced Walker with 8:44 to play.

*This brought the game’s starters back together, but they would only play for the next 53 seconds as Michigan took a 67-65 lead and Walker and Towns replaced Ahrens and Young with 7:51 to play.

*This lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Towns, Walker and Washington had scored and allowed 12 points in 3:47 during the first half, and here it would tie the game at 69 with a 4-2 run in the next 1:21.

*The second-half starters were reunited here with 6:30 to play, but in the next 1:38 they would be outscored 4-0 as Michigan took a 73-69 lead before Ahrens replaced Sueing with 4:52 to play.

*The lineup of Ahrens, Liddell, Walker, Washington and Young scored five points and allowed two in the next 52 seconds as the Buckeyes pulled within 75-74 with exactly four minutes to play. The lineup hadn’t appeared together in this game to this point.

*Here was where Michigan created the necessary distance. Against Liddell, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young, the Wolverines had a 5-0 run in the next 1:27 before Ahrens replaced Sueing in an ongoing offense-defense substitution with 2:33 left and Michigan ahead 80-74.

*Ahrens and Sueing swapped in for each other six times in the final 37 seconds as Michigan held on, 92-87.

*In all, the lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young was outscored 36-21 in 13:23.

*In 6:06, the starters scored 12 points and allowed 11.

*The lineup of Ahrens, Liddell, Walker, Washington and Young scored 13 and allowed 7 in only 1:40.

*Ohio State used a season-low 13 different lineups in this game, one of which played for only the final eight seconds of the first half.

*Washington and Johnson both had individual plus-minus ratings of plus-3, tops on the team. Washington played 32 minutes and Johnson played three.