Ohio State's Chris Holtmann Hoping to Send a Message by Bringing C.J. Jackson Off The Bench

By James Grega on December 6, 2017 at 10:10 am
C.J. Jackson

Through eight games, Ohio State was 5-3 with back-to-back losses in which turnovers cost the Buckeyes double-digit leads to both Butler and Clemson. 

With Big Ten play starting, Chris Holtmann decided to make a switch at the point guard position, taking C.J. Jackson out of the starting lineup and putting Jae'Sean Tate in control of the offense to start the game. Kam Williams was re-inserted back into the starting lineup in Jackson's place after coming off the bench for six straight games. 

The switch was presumably made because of Jackson's inability to protect the basketball. Through the Clemson game, Jackson led the team in turnovers with 28 and had also had two other games in which he tallied seven giveaways. 

Addressing the media following a come-from-behind 71-62 victory over Michigan, Holtmann said the switch in the starting lineup was meant to get the attention of Jackson. 

"I am trying to send a message," Holtmann said Monday. "He is really important for us. We know that. Players have an opportunity to respond the right way in those moments."

Since his demotion to the bench, Jackson has responded positively on the court. In two games off the bench, Jackson has poured in 27 points, collected nine rebounds, dished out six assists and committed just three turnovers. 

Holtmann praised Jackson for his personal character after the win over Michigan, adding that the point guard still started the second half because of his improved play. 

"He is a great kid. A great kid. But I have said multiple times that the lineup would be somewhat fluid this year, because we do have so many new pieces," Holtmann said. "I started (Jackson) in the second half, but didn't start him in the first half. We'll see going into the next game, I don't know."

In Jackson's stead, Tate has stepped into the point guard role and played admirably. In his first game at the point, the traditional forward dropped in 16 points and collected four steals and four assists in a blowout win over Wisconsin. Against the Wolverines, Tate scored 14 points but dished out just one assist as Jackson played more of the point in Ohio State's furious second-half comeback. 

Through two games as the starting point guard, Holtmann said Tate has performed well running Ohio State's offense, but added he too must watch his turnover count which ranks second on the team with 27 to Jackson's 31. 

"I think it's an adjustment. He has played at the four for a lot of his career and some wing spots. It's an adjustment, but he is doing a good job," Holtmann said. "He has got to limit his turnovers too, but he also has to be a playmaker and so does C.J. Our playmaking is somewhat limited, so those guys have to be playmakers for us but at the same time, take care of the ball."

Holtmann said his expectations for the point guard in his program are high, and that he is confident Jackson will turn his play around as the season moves along. 

"Our turnover percentage as a team has to get better and he leads the way with that in terms of what my expectation for that position is," Holtmann said. "(Jackson) is a terrific kid. Look at how he has played these last two games. He has given us some really good things. There were some defensive things he could have been better at (Monday), but I have a lot of confidence in what he can bring this group."

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