Yesterday's tough loss to Northwestern in Evanston dropped Chris Holtmann's basketball Buckeyes to 7-2 on the season. More importantly, the loss saw Ohio State drop to 1-2 in league action with the Buckeyes looking to draw even in next Wednesday's home matchup with Nebraska.
The week that was started off with a bang as Ohio State roared back from a 48-32 second half deficit against No. 11 Rutgers, closing on a 48-20 blitz to win going away. The 15 minute stretch was easily the best the Buckeyes have looked all year and they did it against a legit Scarlet Knights squad, albeit one that was a bit depleted due to injuries and foul trouble.
Momentum from the big comeback died on the vine yesterday however as the Buckeyes missed eight of their final 10 field goal attempts against the Wildcats before falling 71-70.
Before we move on to next week's matchup with the Cornhuskers, here are Five Things from the hardwood.
DUANE-O NO DRAIN-O
The volume scorer label unfortunately fits like a glove on Duane Washington.
Washington, Ohio State's leading scorer at 15.4 per night, had his most important outing of the season against Rutgers with 22 points on 6-of-14 shooting and he even added six rebounds. The 42.9% shooting night marked just the third time in nine games he's shot over 41% from the floor.
Yesterday against the Wildcats, Washington missed eight of nine shots, including five of six from distance. The biggest miss however came on Ohio State's last possession as he misfired on a driving layup going to his strong hand with the game on the line.
While that miss on a fairly clean look made the TV highlights, the real story continues to be Washington's penchant for poor shot selection and a lack of commitment to shooting fundamentals. Too often, Washington is leaning, fading and/or not squaring his shoulders when he has the opportunity to do so.
The biproduct is a 35% shooting mark so far this season including 33% from three-point land. Ohio State counts on Washington to create which we've said before will lead to some bad shots that everyone needs to live with but more discipline with his form is needed, especially considering he's taken 39 more shots than anyone else on the roster through nine games.
Washington can obviously shoot when he's square - he's hitting 94% of this free throws (30-for-32).
One way to take some pressure off Washington would be for Justice Sueing to get back on track.
The Cal transfer was a beast through the first six games, averaging 14 points on 54% shooting including 40% from deep.
Over his last three games however, Sueing's averaging just 4.3 points per game on 31% shooting including an 0-for-7 streak behind the arc.
Moreover, Sueing is averaging just 16.7 minutes during his three-game slump after averaging 28.2 minutes across the first six games.
Some of the decrease can be attributed to Musa Jallow's return and his ability to defend the wing combined with Sueing's struggles with turning the ball over. Sueing is tied for the team lead at 2.4 turnovers per game despite the recent drop off in minutes.
Ohio State needs Sueing to get right in a hurry.
HANDLE WITH CARE
Speaking of turnovers, Holtmann has to be pleased, generally speaking, with the improvement his program is showing in taking care of the ball. I discussed two weeks ago how big of an issue this was a year ago and while yesterday was a dud and turnovers have been on the uptick, there's still metrics to celebrate here.
Against Rutgers, the Buckeyes turned it over 11 times but still managed to win the points off turnovers battle, 15-11, against the Scarlet Knights.
Yesterday versus Northwestern, the Buckeyes coughed it up a respectable 10 times but only forced five Wildcat miscues. Chris Collins' team was also adept at making Ohio State pay for those mistakes, outscoring the Buckeyes 20-4 in points off turnovers.
Sueing is tied for the team-lead in turnovers per game at 2.4 with point guard CJ Walker, who had a season-high four versus Rutgers with three more yesterday.
That said, Walker still has 41 assists against 22 turnovers on the season.
Washington is the only other Buckeye averaging over one turnover per game (1.6). Last season, six different Buckeyes averaged at least one turnover per game with E.J. Liddell at 0.9.
CJ STILL SEARCHING FOR HIS SHOT
Similar to his backcourt mate, CJ Walker hasn't found his shot from the floor, shooting over 40% from the floor just twice in nine outings.
Yesterday, Walker went 3-of-9 after going 0-for-6 versus Rutgers. His 3-for-15 week included a modest 0-for-3 from distance.
On the season, Walker is now shooting a team-low 33% from the field meaning he and Washington (35%) are the only two regulars shooting below 40% on the season.
Walker shot 43% last season so there's hope he can find the mark a little more often.
Meanwhile, don't forget Walker does a lot of other things for this team as the floor general. He's averaging 4.6 assists per game so far this year after averaging 3.5 last year and he's more than doubled his trips to the free throw line.
That's meaningful because the dude has been lethal from the stripe. While he didn't attempt a free throw yesterday, he's converted 38-of-39 attempts through nine games, leading the team in makes and attempts. Over 43% of Walker's points this year have come from the free throw line.
After a two-minute season debut against UCLA, following roughly 37 knee surgeries, and another six minutes last Wednesday versus Rutgers, swingman Seth Towns played 17 minutes against the Wildcats.
In 11 first half minutes, Towns showed how he can help the Buckeyes, connecting on all four of his field goal tries including 3-for-3 from downtown. With Towns helping stretch the Northwestern defense, the Buckeyes shot 50% from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
Towns didn't do much in his six second half minutes, missing his only field goal try but it was good to see him able to log 17 minutes of action.
It will be interesting to see if/how his role can expand, if his body is up to the task at both ends of the floor. I don't know that I expect him to be significantly more than a spot up shooter or at least one that generally stays on the perimeter but even that would be a bonus for a team shooting 31% from beyond the arc.