Ohio State will wrap up their participation in the inaugural PK80 Invitational, squaring off against Butler in the Motion Bracket’s Fifth Place Game. Even though this isn’t the championship game of the bracket, there will be plenty of emotions in the air, as Chris Holtmann will be coaching against the team he used to lead before coming to Ohio State.
Prior to taking the head coaching position at Ohio State in early June, Holtmann coached for three seasons at Butler, amassing a 70-31 record during this time with the school. Last season was Holtmann’s best year of the three he was in charge in Indianapolis, as he led the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
After suffering their first loss of the season on Thursday night to Gonzaga, Ohio State rebounded with a 79-71 win over Stanford on Friday night in Portland. The Buckeyes looked like they might be in trouble early, falling behind the Cardinal 31-21 in the first half. Ohio State closed the first half with a 11-1 run, heading into halftime tied with Stanford at 32.
Ohio State wouldn’t trail again in the game, building up a double-digit lead in the second half, and not letting the Cardinal get closer than five points late in the game. The win after trailing by double-digits was the first the Buckeyes have recorded since February of earlier this year, when Ohio State trailed Michigan by double-digits in the first half before coming back to record a 70-66 win over the Wolverines.
The Buckeyes were paced by a career-high 23 points from C.J. Jackson. The junior guard hit a season-high four three-pointers, and now has reached double figures in each of his last three games. Along with Jackson, Ohio State got a couple big performances out of their elder statesmen. Keita Bates-Diop scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Jae’Sean Tate added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Like Ohio State, Butler was able to bounce back from a Thursday night loss in Portland. The Bulldogs saw little go right on Thursday in a 61-48 loss to Texas in their first round game. Butler held off a game Portland State team on Friday night, beating the Vikings 71-69. After being held scoreless by the Longhorns on Thursday, Tyler Wideman responded with a team-high 18 points against Portland State.
Following the departure of Holtmann, the reins of the Butler program were handed to former player LaVall Jordan. During his senior season at Butler, Jordan averaged 12.4 points per game on a team that won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in 39 years, under then-head coach Thad Matta. Last year was Jordan’s first year as a head coach, posting just a 11-24 record at Milwaukee. The Panthers did make the Horizon League Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game, and had they beaten Northern Kentucky, they would have made the NCAA Tournament with the most losses ever.
Numbers to know
Today’s meeting is the 42nd meeting all-time between Ohio State and Butler, with The Buckeyes holding a 31-10 edge in the series. The teams played four times in a five-year span between 2005 and 2009. The Buckeyes won the meetings in 2005 and 2008, while Butler took the meetings in 2007 and 2009. The final meeting was the first time both teams entered ranked, with Butler earning a 74-66 win.
Ohio State is unbeatable when they can get at least 10 points and 10 rebounds from forward Keita Bates-Diop in a game. In Friday’s game, Bates-Diop scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, pushing Ohio State’s record to 10-0 when Bates-Diop records a double-double. Bates-Diop has now recorded a double-double in four of Ohio State’s six games this year.
With his 14 points on Friday night, senior Jae’Sean Tate surpassed the 1,179 career points Lawrence Funderburk scored during his Buckeye career for 37th on Ohio State’s all-time scoring list. That wasn’t the only milestone Tate eclipsed on Friday night, as he recorded his 600th rebound for Ohio State.
Cast of characters
While Micah Potter was able to play on Friday night, Ohio State didn’t push the sophomore, letting Wesson start his second game in a row. The reigning Ohio Mr. Basketball scored 10 points for the second game in a row. When Potter is fully recovered from his ankle injury, Ohio State will have a solid tandem in Wesson and Potter in the post.
The main bright spot in Ohio State’s trip to Portland has been C.J. Jackson. The junior put home a career-high 23 points in the win over Stanford, and in Thursday’s loss to Gonzaga he tied Jae’Sean Tate with a team-high 12 points. After shooting a combined 1-12 from long range in wins over Texas Southern and Northeastern, Jackson has found his stroke, hitting six of his 11 three-point attempts in Portland.
The senior forward from Louisville is Butler’s leading scorer this year, averaging 14.7 points per game. Martin scored 16 points in Friday’s win over Portland State, and the total was only eclipsed by 20-point performances in the first two games of the season against Kennesaw State and Princeton. In the victory against Princeton, Martin also added 14 rebounds.
After Sunday’s game, Ohio State fans will probably be happy they won’t have to see Baldwin anytime soon. The sophomore guard has been solid most of the year, hitting double-figures in scoring in four of Butler’s six games on the year. Baldwin’s worst performance of the year came on Friday, as he scored just six points in the win over Portland State. Expect Baldwin to bounce back in today’s game against the Buckeyes.
How to watch:
Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM