Analysis: Ohio State's starters played well against Iowa, but few other lineups did

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
The Ohio State Buckeyes convene in a huddle during Sunday's NCAA Division I Big Ten conference basketball game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on February 28, 2021. Iowa won the game 73-57.

Three days removed from a controversial loss at Michigan State, Ohio State returned home for a top-10 showdown Sunday against Iowa that didn’t live up to the billing. The Buckeyes led for a total of 30 seconds and had their least efficient offensive performance in a 71-57 loss to the Hawkeyes.

Here’s how coach Chris Holtmann substituted throughout the game, which lineups did well and which did not.

*Kyle Young returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s loss at Michigan State. His inclusion in the starting lineup was one of two changes for the Buckeyes, who also saw senior guard CJ Walker make his first start since a January 3 loss at Minnesota. He would miss the next four games with torn ligaments in his right hand and then come off the bench for the next nine games. Young and Walker teamed with Duane Washington Jr., Justice Sueing and E.J. Liddell, sending Musa Jallow and Justin Ahrens to the bench.

*This lineup of Liddell, Sueing, Walker, Washington and Young started nine of the first 11 games of the season and has since played in seven of the eight games during which all five players were available. It entered the game having played 133:32 together, most for any lineup this season, having scored 261 points and allowing 223 (plus-38). In Big Ten play, it was minus-7 (138 points scored, 145 allowed) in 76:42.

*In the first game against Iowa this season, this lineup was outscored 11-10 in 3:26. In the shootout against Michigan one game prior, it was outscored 36-21 in 13:23. Here, it was outscored 10-6 before Zed Key replaced Young with 16:27 left in the first half.

*Walker would pick up a quick second foul and subbed out for freshman Meechie Johnson Jr. with 15:36 left and Iowa’s lead at 10-8.

*This lineup of Johnson, Key, Liddell, Sueing and Washington had played together for 1:34 this season. In the next 1:08, it allowed a Luka Garza layup before Ahrens replaced Washington with 14:28 to play. Eighteen seconds later, Young returned to replace Liddell as Iowa led 12-8.

*In the next 1:07, a lineup of Ahrens, Johnson, Key, Sueing and Young was outscored 3-1 as Iowa pushed its lead to 15-9 before Jallow replaced Sueing and Washington replaced Johnson with 13:03 left in the half.

*A lineup of Ahrens, Jallow, Liddell, Washington and Young pulled with 15-11 on a Liddell basket during a shift that lasted exactly two minutes before Walker returned with 10:15 to play, replacing Young.

*This lineup of Ahrens, Jallow, Liddell, Walker and Washington allowed a Garza three-pointer in the next 1:08 as Iowa increased its lead to 18-11 before Young replaced Liddell with 9:07 remaining.

*Iowa increased its lead to 22-11 with a 4-0 run against this lineup of Ahrens, Jallow, Walker, Washington and Young during the next 1:04. With 8:03 to play, Liddell and Sueing replaced Ahrens and Jallow.

*Here, it was back to the starting five, but it didn’t make much difference. Ohio State pulled one point closer at 25-15 when freshman Gene Brown replaced Sueing with 6:33 to play after a 1:30 shift for the starting lineup.

*Iowa expanded its lead on this lineup of Brown, Liddell, Walker, Washington and Young. It had been plus-11 (24 points scored, 13 allowed) in 9:50 in Big Ten play entering the game, but it was outscored 7-5 in the next 2:06 before Seth Towns and Key replaced Young and Liddell with 4:27 to play and the Hawkeyes ahead 32-20.

*This lineup of Brown, Key, Towns, Walker and Washington would get a quick five-point outburst from Washington and outscore Iowa 5-2 in the next 1:54 before Johnson and Liddell replaced Washington and Key with 2:33 left and Ohio State trailing 34-25.

*This was a lineup debut for Brown, Johnson, Liddell, Towns and Walker, and it wasn’t pretty: it was outscored 5-0 in the next 1:13 as Iowa opened a 39-25 lead before Brown, Walker and Towns were replaced by Sueing, Washington and Young with 1:20 left. That brought to the court a lineup of four starters with Johnson in Walker’s place, and it scored and allowed three points in the next 1:01 before Ahrens and Towns replaced Johnson and Young with 19 seconds to play and Iowa’s lead at 42-28, where it would remain until halftime.

*It was back to the starters to open the second half, and this would be the best part of the game for the Buckeyes. In the first 3:53, the starters outscored Iowa 14-4, pulling within two points at one point before Key replaced Young with 16:07 to play and the Iowa lead at 46-42.

*Ohio State would keep it in single digits until the midpoint of the second half. A lineup of Ahrens, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Young would take the court with 9:35 left and Iowa ahead 59-51 and be outscored 5-0 in the next 2:02 before Jallow and Washington replaced Ahrens and Walker with 7:33 to play and the Buckeyes now trailing 64-51.

*From 5:25 until 3:13 remained, a lineup of Jallow, Liddell, Towns, Walker and Washington outscored Iowa 4-2 to pull within 68-57 before Ahrens replaced Washington.

*This lineup of Ahrens, Jallow, Liddell, Towns and Walker hadn’t played together all year. The Hawkeyes would outscore the Buckeyes 3-0 while this lineup was on the court to push the lead to 71-57 and remove all doubt by the time Johnson replaced Walker with 1:33 to play.

*In looking at the lineups, no one lineup was responsible for the defeat. Two lineups were outscored by five points: Ahrens, Liddell, Sueing, Walker and Young (in 2:02) and Brown, Johnson, Liddell, Towns and Walker (in 1:13).

*After that stretch to open the second half, Ohio State’s starters did not play together again. In 8:56, they outscored the Hawkeyes 24-17. Those 24 points were 42.1% of Ohio State’s scoring and came in only 22.3% of the total minutes played.

*Ohio State tied a season high with 23 different lineups used.

*No player had a positive individual plus-minus rating. Washington was tops on the team at zero.

*No lineup that saw time against Michigan State also saw time against Iowa.