For 20 minutes, the Ohio State Buckeyes were in the game against the No. 5 Michigan Wolverines. It even seemed, at times, that they could pull off the road upset of the one-loss John Beilein coached squad.
And then the second half happened.
Like the current midwest weather, the Bucks were ice cold from the field when it mattered most; momentum shifting possessions led to clanking shots off of the rim. To add to the troubles inside the Crisler Center, OSU couldn’t hang onto the ball. Pockets were picked 11 times, leading to 19 total turnovers committed by the Buckeyes. Isaiah Livers and Jordan Poole were the leading stealers for UM — both snatching three apiece.
Forty-nine points were scored by the visitors from Columbus on Tuesday night. Now that the dust has settled on the loss, let’s take a quick look at this latest contest and see what Chris Holtmann (and his team) can do moving forward.
1) The Wesson brothers: a tale of the best of times, and worst of times
Unlike past games, Kaleb Wesson had a pretty good first half and didn’t find himself in foul trouble. He only committed one foul in the first 20 minutes, meaning that he saw ample time on the floor. And he made the most out of that time. Nine points on 4-of-8 shooting, coupled with a four-rebound effort kept OSU in the game at halftime.
His brother, Andre, had a less than stellar opening half, as he was held to only three points.
However, Michigan made adjustments in the second half — focusing on shutting down Kaleb.
After seeing 13 minutes of floor time in the first half, Kaleb only got nine minutes in the second. That’s because he was largely ineffective down the stretch, and got into foul trouble again. By the time the final horn sounded, his second half stats weren’t all that impressive: three points, three rebounds, three fouls (including a technical), a block, and getting blocked from by UM’s Zavier Simpson.
With a little over eight minutes left in the game, some jawing between Kaleb and a couple Michigan Men on the floor led to a total of four technicals being assessed (two on each team).
It's almost like Ohio State and Michigan don't like each other very much pic.twitter.com/TXnisQQruG— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) January 30, 2019
But, the war of words ultimately led to momentum being solidified by the Wolverines; and from that point on, they sprinted away from the Buckeyes.
Andre put five second half points on the board in addition to being subject of some ticky-tack calls. Of all the egregious fouls, the worst was a questionable flop by Jordan Poole that led to Andre being assessed a charge.
This was a tough game for both brothers, but it can be used as a data point for what to do/not do. For Kaleb, not committing three fouls in the second half and forcing Holtmann to sit you for the rest of the game would be the main thing to work on. Also, not getting into shouting and shoving contests with the opposition would be good, too. Even though this is UM-OSU, some players may take notice at how Kaleb reacted and egg him on to draw a technical in the future.
For Andre, this was a game of bad breaks. There’s not much you can do when the whistles are going against you. All you can do is shake this one off and move on.
This one is obvious: 19 turnovers won’t win you basketball games.
I will say that playing the No. 5 team on the road is tough, and it becomes increasing tougher when guys like Poole and Livers are getting steals. However, general sloppiness from the Scarlet and Gray has been a theme over the last month.
This feels like a solvable problem with practice, but playing in a game and practicing are two very different things. When games are close and big possessions are coming up, the Buckeyes are battling not only the opposing team, but themselves. OSU seems to try to do too much each time down the floor, which leads to the inevitable TO.
Rutgers is next on the docket for the Bucks, and that would be a good place to work on the fundamentals of not turning over the basketball. They have a month to get back on track — and making good decisions with the ball will go a long way in getting NCAA Tournament ready.
3) A rough night in primetime
Combining the first two points, it was a less than stellar evening for Luther Muhammad, Musa Jallow and Duane Washington Jr.
Just take a gander at these stat lines:
- Muhammad: 3 points, 1/5 shooting (1/3 from 3pt), 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers
- Jallow: 0 points, 0/2 shooting (0/2 from 3pt), 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers
- Washington Jr.: 5 points, 2/8 shooting (1/5 from 3pt), 1 rebound, 2 assists
In a game where Ohio State needed scoring from everybody, these three were held in check.
I like to believe that the combo of young team and tough opponent away from home are the top factors into why these three were held to a total of eight points, and why the Buckeyes couldn’t top 50 points.
Speaking of primetime...
Bonus: Primetime giveth and primetime taketh away
OSU-UM was scheduled for a 9 p.m. ET tip-off on ESPN2 as part of the ‘Super Tuesday’ slate of games. However, being the second game in a primetime doubleheader has its disadvantages.
Since the lead-in, Virginia vs. NC State, went into overtime, the Buckeyes and Wolverines spent the first eight minutes of the contest on ESPNews. If you have ESPNews, this was a non-problem. But, if you didn’t have it, you were treated to the waning moments of a Cavalier survival against the Wolfpack, or forced to watch the Spanish broadcast on Watch ESPN. Granted, the ACC matchup was a good game, but not the game that you necessarily wanted to see.
I’m a fan of pushing back the start time to accommodate the TV audience. Or, better yet, not having the games that close on the schedule to begin with. Or even better yet: not starting games at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday.
That’s my old man yells at cloud take.