Roster Construction Leading to Somewhat Predictable Holes in Ohio State Basketball

By David Wertheim on January 12, 2020 at 7:15 am
DJ Carton
Brian Spurlock- USA TODAY Sports

The knock on Ohio State for the last few seasons is that they cannot find a consistent secondary scorer.

Ohio State has zero offense right now. 

Despite holding their opponents under 70 points in each game, Ohio State basketball has lost four in a row behind atrocious offense led by an absurd number of turnovers.

This was the case again yesterday in Bloomington, where the Hoosiers used a strong second half (and 16 turnovers from Ohio State) to knock off the Buckeyes 66-54 for Archie Miller's first win over Chris Holtmann in five tries.

D.J. Carton seems to have hit a freshman wall, turning the ball over an incredible seven times in 29 minutes. Kaleb Wesson, the junior and leading scorer on the team, had four turnovers. A smattering of others had one. 

The lack of outside shooting is something that has plagued the Buckeyes during this rough stretch, as well.

With the team's best three-point shooter Duane Washington Jr. on the bench for most of the game due to a lack of defensive effort, the offense predictably missed that weapon, going just 9-26 from three-point range against the Hoosiers.

Now, how did this fall from grace happen? 

Ohio State's roster this season is built around Kaleb Wesson. It was similar last year. He was always going to be the No. 1 scorer in this offense. What was unexpected is the lack of secondary options overall.

Sophomore Luther Muhammad is providing very little on offense, scoring just five total points in his last three games combined. C.J. Walker has scored just 14 in the past three games. Carton and Liddell have hit a freshman wall and seen their field goal percentages decrease in tandem with Washington, who has struggled significantly since coming back from a rib injury.

Walker, a transfer from Florida State, was supposed to be a veteran leader with some scoring chops. He has been one of those two things. Carton and Liddell were supposed to be Big Ten ready out of high school and able to be solid complimentary pieces. They have hit a wall.

Alonzo Gaffney is not physically there or able to provide anything right now. That one was more expected.

Muhammad and Washington, two sophomore guards who played well at the beginning of this season, have absolutely cratered. One was pulled from the starting lineup and the other benched. 

The only two other contributors who seem to be playing good basketball are senior Andre Wesson and junior Kyle Young, but neither has ever been or will ever be a No. 2 scoring option on a good college basketball team.

It would make sense, of course, that the younger guys would be struggling more than the older guys (C.J. Walker being the exception). What has been unpredictable is that the young guys seem incredibly unprepared for the Big Ten, a sentiment that Kaleb Wesson echoed after the game on Sunday. 

Of course, Ohio State blazed to a No. 2 ranking early in the season. Just a few weeks ago, they were on the cusp of being No. 1. But then it all fell apart in frustrating fashion.

But was this predictable? Kind of.

Ohio State knew it needed *at least* one of the upperclass guards to step up. All three have been rough recently. They needed the freshmen to at least be capable reserves if absolutely nothing else. That hasn't happened. Kyle Young was lost for two games due to getting his appendix removed. 

It's been a combination of bad luck and bad timing for Ohio State. Is it reasonable to expect this to continue through March? Probably not. Was this predictable? Probably.

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