Gene Brown, Seth Towns and Justice Sueing out for Ohio State game against Duke

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State will remain without the services of a trio of players as it hosts No. 1 Duke on Tuesday night.

Monday afternoon, coach Chris Holtmann said the Buckeyes will be without second-year guard Gene Brown III, sixth-year forward Seth Towns and fifth-year forward Justice Sueing as each works his way back from various injuries. The statuses of Towns and Sueing were never in doubt as the duo deal with long-term recoveries, but the news means Brown will miss his third straight game after suffering a concussion while pulling down the final of his career-high eight rebounds in a loss at Xavier on Nov. 18.

“Eugene Brown remains in the concussion protocol, so he will not be available for (Tuesday) night,” Holtmann said. “Obviously heads are really important to make sure you’re giving them ample time to return. We expect him back here, but it’s going to be once he’s fully cleared so he remains in concussion protocol.”

Brown did not travel with the team to Florida last week for the Fort Myers Tip-Off, where Ohio State beat No. 21 Seton Hall on Monday night and lost on a buzzer-beater to No. 23 Florida two days later. As Sueing has missed extended time with an abdominal injury that dates back to last season, Brown has stepped into the void and averaged 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in four games this year. A 6-6, 195-pound guard, Brown’s length and athleticism have helped him carve out a role.

Without him, Holtmann played lightly used guard Jimmy Sotos 19 and 20 minutes, respectively, against Seton Hall and Florida. He had been an unused substitute during two of the first four games and had totaled 17 minutes of playing time entering the Seton Hall game.

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“He played a lot these last couple games,” Holtmann said. “Some of that was we needed more ball handling and more perimeter players. Jimmy’s gotta stay ready. I thought he did some good things.”

Between Sueing and Towns, the latter has a more concrete timetable for getting back on the court. Sueing saw action during the first two games of the season before seeing a specialist and being shut down for the foreseeable future to address his abdominal injury. Clearly hobbled, Sueing averaged 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game.

How long he will miss is undetermined, but Holtmann said Monday that it will still be a while.

“Justice is making progress, but we still anticipate he’s going to be weeks away from returning,” he said.

After shaking off a long history of knee issues, Towns underwent back surgery in mid-September and faced a return in mid-to-late December. That remains the case, and he was able to travel to Fort Myers with his teammates. Sueing remained in Columbus to keep up on his treatment.

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“Seth Towns continues to make progress,” Holtmann said. “He’s making good, steady progress but he’s still weeks away as well we believe.”

In his first season after missing two years due to injury, Towns played in 25 games for the Buckeyes last season and averaged 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.0 minutes per game.