Analysis: Which Ohio State lineups worked, and which didn't, in Michigan State loss

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Michigan State forward Aaron Henry (0) defends against a shot by Ohio State guard CJ Walker (13) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

No. 4 Ohio State took a second consecutive loss when it played at Michigan State on Thursday night. The Buckeyes led by as many as nine points during the second half but fell short, 71-67, to set up Sunday’s game with No. 9 Iowa.

Here’s an in-depth look at the lineups coach Chris Holtmann used along the way.

*The Buckeyes opened with a lineup of Justin Ahrens, Musa Jallow, E.J. Liddell, Justice Sueing and Duane Washington Jr. This lineup had played together for a total of 7:14 this season, scoring and allowing 12 points. In Big Ten play, it had played together for 3:52, scoring seven points and allowing three.

*Here, in the first 4:39, it was outscored 11-9 before Holtmann subbed in CJ Walker, Zed Key and Gene Brown for Ahrens, Sueing and Liddell with 15:21 to play.

*This lineup of Brown, Jallow, Key, Walker and Washington hadn’t appeared together in a Big Ten game until this point. It would score and allow four points in the next 1:43 before Ahrens returned to replace Washington with Michigan State ahead 15-13 and 13:38 left in the first half.

*That, too, was a seldom-used lineup: Ahrens, Brown, Jallow, Key and Walker had only played together for 57 scoreless seconds in a road loss to Purdue. Key would tie the game at 15 before Sueing would return and replace Brown with 12:33 left, a shift of 1:05.

*The lineup of Ahrens, Jallow, Key, Sueing and Walker had played in just one Big Ten game, totaling 4:42, scoring 10 points and allowing five in the first game against Michigan State this season. Here, it took an 18-17 lead in the next 1:03 before Seth Towns gave Jallow his first break of the game with 11:30 left in the half.

*Ahrens, Key, Sueing, Towns and Walker had played together for 2:05 this season. Here, they outscored Michigan State 4-2 in the next 1:39 to take a 22-19 lead before Liddell returned to replace Key.

*Keeping with the theme: this lineup of Ahrens, Liddell, Sueing, Towns and Walker had played for a total of 3:53 this year entering the game. It would play for the next 1:26 as the Spartans pulled with 24-22 before Meechie Johnson Jr. and Washington replaced Ahrens and Walker with 8:25 left.

*The first lineup to see significant run consisted of Jallow, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington. They took the court with 7:10 left in the half and the lead at 26-24 and would play for the next 3:08, scoring nine points and allowing five. They had played together for 45 seconds in Big Ten play this year.

*With 2:14 left and the lead at 35-33, a lineup of Jallow, Key, Sueing, Walker and Washington would play the next 1:33 and push it to a 37-33 score. That lineup hadn’t appeared together in the last 15 games.

*A new lineup consisting of Brown, Jallow, Johnson, Liddell and Sueing debuted with 41 seconds left. After an Ohio State timeout with one second remaining in the half, Ibrahima Diallo checked in for Liddell for defensive purposes and the Spartans did not score.

*It was back to the starters for the start of the second half with the lead at 38-33. They would be outscored 7-4 through the first four minutes, numbers impacted by Holtmann’s first technical foul that the Spartans turned into two free throws. With exactly 16 minutes to play, and the lead at 42-40, Walker subbed in for Ahrens.

*This brought the lineup of Jallow, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington back to the floor, and in the next 2:06 it outscored Michigan State 5-0 to push the lead to 47-40 when Key replaced Liddell with 13:54 left.

*This lineup of Jallow, Key, Sueing, Walker and Washington had totaled 11 seconds of playing time this year and it would get a Walker layup in 30 seconds before Ahrens replaced Washington with the lead up to 49-40.

*From 11:28 to 9:14, a lineup of Ahrens, Brown, Liddell, Towns and Walker was outscored 6-2 as the Spartans pulled within 51-48. This lineup had played together for eight seconds all season entering the game.

*Here, the Buckeyes brought out the lineup of Jallow, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington that, to this point, had outscored Michigan State 14-5 in 5:14. In the next 3:40, it held the Spartans at bay, outscoring them 10-9 and inching the lead up to 61-57 with 4:34 to play when Key replaced Liddell.

*Liddell checked back in 1:11 later with Michigan State within 61-60 and 3:23 to play, reuniting the lineup that had done so well to this point.

*Jallow, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington had outscored Michigan State 24-14 in 8:54 until this point, and they would remain on the court together until 14 seconds remained and Michigan State was ahead 68-67. In that span of 3:09, the Buckeyes were outscored 8-6.

*Brown and Washington would replace each other as offense-for-defense substitutions, with Washington for offense and Brown for defense.

*For the final 12 seconds and needing to score, the Buckeyes went with a lineup of Ahrens, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington. They would fail to score and the Spartans would add two points on Holtmann’s second technical foul of the night, setting the final score at 71-67.

*The starters played 8:39 together, scoring 13 points and allowing 18.

*The lineup of Jallow, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Washington outscored Michigan State 30-22 in 12:03, totaling just north of 30% of the total minutes played. It had scored 23 points all season entering this game.

*Despite the absence of Young, the Buckeyes played only three new lineups and they combined for a total of 43 seconds of playing time.

*Walker had the best individual plus-minus rating at plus-5. He’s led the team in that category in a team-high five games despite missing four games due to injury.