DJ Carton arrived at Ohio State as a prized four-star recruit out of Bettendorf, Iowa and the true freshman is a strong contributor for a Chris Holtmann squad that has surprised everyone with its electric start.
In the mix from the start, Carton ranks third on team in scoring at 9.9 points per game, second in assists with 2.9 per contest and third in field goal percentage (52.5%).
Carton tallied nine points, five rebounds and two assists in his collegiate debut against Cincinnati, showing he belonged right out of the gate.
Fans became even more enamored with the young guard over the next five games as he reached double figures in each, shooting a scorching 56 percent from the floor. He also had more assists than turnovers in four of those five outings; the line outlier being a one assist, one turnover night against scrappy Kent State.
The last three games however have seen Carton look a bit more like a freshman.
He shot just 3-of-8 against Morgan State with two turnovers in 22 minutes but backed that up with a strong eight points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals against two turnovers in Ohio State's blowout of then-No. 7 North Carolina in the Dean Dome.
Last Saturday against Penn State, Carton generally found tough sledding even as Ohio State spanked the Nittany Lions, 106-74, in the Schott.
In 20 minutes of action, Carton tallied eight points but made just 1-of-3 shots while tying his season-high with four turnovers against two assists. He also racked up a season-high four fouls.
Freshmen, even elite ones like Carton, will generally experience some ups and downs so a game like last Saturday, where he did still make meaningful contributions, should be expected.
The key is turning the page and that's exactly what should be expected from him tonight.
Sitting on a perfect 9-0 record and ranked No. 2 in the Coaches Poll, the Buckeyes go back to work at 6:30 p.m., this time on the road in Williams Arena against Minnesota.
Carton could find success against a Gophers squad not known for elite ball pressure. Minnesota currently ranks 11th in the Big Ten in forcing turnovers and slots in the middle of the conference pack in field goal percentage allowed.
There's no doubt Carton is hungry to rebound from his most statistically disappointing outings to date.