Buck­eyes left look­ing for some lead­ers

Holt­mann shakes up his lineup but Ohio State still drops third straight.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Jardy

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.

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