When Ohio State veterans C.J. Jackson and Jae'Sean Tate took the podium following an 82-72 win over Radford on Sunday, the duo immediately turned their attention to the postgame stat sheet.
After a brief pause, Jackson and Tate were asked what they were looking at on the stat sheet. "Turnovers," they said.
The Buckeyes committed 15 turnovers, nine in the first half alone against Radford, but were still able to come away with a double-digit win to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Those turnovers in the first half led to a quick benching of Jackson, who accounted for four turnovers in the first 6:38 of the game. Upon returning to action, the point guard helped spark a 16-2 run that gave Ohio State its largest lead of the first half, 31-16.
Jackson said that Holtmann's message to him on the bench was to make the easy play instead of trying to do too much with the ball in his hands.
"At the beginning, my mind was kind of sped up a little bit. I was trying to make the home run play," Jackson said. "When he pulled me to the side, he told me just to hit singles, and that is what I tried to do once I came back in."
Jackson still finished the game with a game-high seven turnovers, but also scored a career-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He connected on three of his five attempts from behind the three-point line and grabbed six rebounds as well.
His performance wasn't perfect, but was acceptable for Holtmann, who said that Ohio State will go as Jackson goes at the point guard position this season.
“I thought he was playing well, obviously outside of turnovers. He can make shots. He can really shoot the ball. Right now, he’s just got such a big load, against pressure he is our primary ballhandler. We are going to live through his mistakes," Holtmann said. "I have been really impressed with his growth, I really have, I hope that is understood.
"His work ethic is good, his willingness to want to get better has been good, his coachability has been good. I think his play has improved even though he has to turn it over less."
Tate, who has had turnover problems of his own to start this season, said he was impressed with the way Jackson rebounded from his poor start. Tate added that he gave Jackson a few words of encouragement before heading back out on the floor following his brief stint on the bench.
"Once coach pulled him out, I went over to him like, 'Bro, there is a lot of basketball to be played,'" Tate said. "Just the teammates around him, we picked him up and once he got out there and saw a couple shots go in – hitting singles like coach said – he just took over the game."
With Jackson as Ohio State's lone true point guard with significant playing experience, the Buckeyes will likely rely on him this season even when he isn't playing well. Andrew Dakich has spelled Jackson as the primary ball handler through two games, and though he has contributed a number of assists, has yet to connect on a shot from the floor.
Holtmann said that he is being patient with Jackson because he has yet to be the dominant ballhandler on a team during his collegiate basketball career.
"This is really the first time where he has played long, extended minutes in a role like this at this level, and that is going to take some growing," Holtmann said. "I have been pleased with his progress."