Buckeyes left looking for some leaders
Holtmann shakes up his lineup but Ohio State still drops third straight.
Despite lineup changes from coach Chris Holtmann, the OSU men’s basketball team lost its third straight game Saturday.
Even when things were going IOWA CITY, IOWA — well for Ohio State on the scoreboard, the court was telling a different story.
At halftime Saturday afternoon inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the No. 16 Buckeyes had somehow staked themselves to a 26-24 lead despite committing 11 turnovers and getting two points from leading scorer Kaleb Wesson. Coach Chris Holtmann had shaken up his starting lineup and drastically changed his substitution patterns, allowing all 10 recruited scholarship players to play at least five minutes during the first half, and players on both sides were missing open shots — sometimes in horrendously spectacular ways.
To be blunt, it wasn’t a thing of beauty. And yet,
Ohio State still led. Until it didn’t. That would take not even three minutes into the second half as Iowa tied the game at 28, again at 30 and took a 32-30 lead with 17:02 to play on a Luka Garza layup. That started a 7-0 run for Garza, and Ohio State never got closer than four again as the deficit grew as high as 15 points.
It’s difficult to separate this loss from the two that proceeded it, in part because there is definitely a hard-tofind common thread. Ohio State led late against Michigan State one Saturday prior only to falter late, and then went to Rutgers and took a three-point loss to a perennial Big Ten bottom feeder Wednesday night. In those games, the Buckeyes were at least in position to secure wins in the final moments.
This one wasn’t like that at all, even if some of the reasons for the loss were similar. Since taking over at Ohio State, Holtmann’s teams have been known to play hard and play smart even if they might be physically or offensively limited.
Those givens seem more up for debate as this losing streak has stretched to three games.
“I thought we played harder today,” Holtmann said after the 72-62 loss. “I’ll have to look at the film on that. I thought we played harder today, but not nearly smart enough. That’s what I’m most disappointed in myself with is we did not play smart enough. We have for most of the year. We didn’t today.”
Senior C.J. Jackson, who had started the last 39 straight games for the Buckeyes, was benched in favor of a lineup featuring Luther Muhammad, Keyshawn Woods, Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson. He spent much of postgame blaming himself for a lack of leadership, be it in practice, games or even the weight room.
Andre Wesson likewise blamed himself for not stepping up on the leadership front but said he’s not sure what is ailing the team’s overall play right now.
“We’re still trying to figure that out,” he said. “A big thing is leadership and that falls on me, too. I’m an older guy on the team. We need better leadership. That’s from me, him (C.J.), all the other older guys. We need better leadership.”
Both players also said they believe better days are still on the horizon for the Buckeyes.
“I know we have to get better, a lot better, and I know good times will come, but we’ve got a lot of talent in the locker room and we’ll be fine,” Jackson said. “We just have to get better pretty fast.”
Iowa forward Luka Garza grabs a rebound Saturday against visiting Ohio State. Garza had a game-high 16 points and added four rebounds for the Hawkeyes.
Ohio State guard C.J. Jackson looks for an open teammate under the basket Saturday against Iowa. In his first game coming off the bench after 39 straight starts, Jackson had 10 points and three assists.