Brice Sensabaugh Already Has the Trust of Chris Holtmann Late in the Game

By Josh Poloha on December 14, 2022 at 10:10 am
Brice Sensabaugh drives to the basket.

Getting buckets is important. Being trusted enough to get a bucket is even more vital.

It's certainly still early, but Brice Sensabaugh has had quite a good first nine games of his college career. The No. 64 overall player in the 2022 recruiting class has been one of the most important Buckeyes early on while leading an impressive freshmen class for Chris Holtmann's team.

Nearly a third of the way through the regular season, Sensabaugh is averaging 14.1 points (second on the team) and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 48.8 percent from the field (fourth), 50 percent from beyond the arc (first among qualified shooters) and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line (fourth). The 6-foot-6, 235-pound forward is doing all this in just 19.2 minutes per game (sixth). Sensabaugh has been an effective and efficient scorer for the Buckeyes even though he doesn't even play half of the game.

While Sensabaugh has consistently been a key part of Ohio State's offense early on, what took place for the true freshman near the end of last Thursday's buzzer-beating thriller against Rutgers shouldn't – and didn't – go unnoticed.

With the Buckeyes trailing Rutgers 63-62 with nine seconds left, Holtmann drew up an ATO play for Sensabaugh, believing that the true freshman would not only make the right read and play, but score (or at least get to the free-throw line) to potentially give Ohio State the lead and the win.


“I feel like he's probably our best guy at creating his own shot,” Holtmann said Monday about drawing up the play for Sensabaugh. “I think that's what you're looking for late in games is those guys that can create their own shot. There's an art to getting your shot off of a great defense and he was being guarded by a really good player. I think if he would've stopped maybe a half-step early he would've been able to get to his sweet spot there. I have tremendous confidence in his ability to do that.”

This isn’t the first time Holtmann has drawn up that exact play late in the game. In fact, he did it last year against Duke, when E.J. Liddell made a step-back jumper to give the Buckeyes a 69-66 lead late in the game.

“The play that we put him in, I thought maybe he could get to his left step back, that's kind of what I was hoping,” Holtmann said after the game. “Similar to what E.J. (Liddell) did against Duke (last season) but that kid made a great play.”

While the 2021 version had a better result, this was the play that Holtmann was alluding to. Same play, different outcome.


Liddell was a seasoned veteran in his third season in Columbus when Holtmann drew up that play for him; Sensabaugh was in his ninth game. In time and with more patience and vision, the true freshman will be able to see the opposing big man step across the paint to come over and help, eventually leading to the block. When that happens, Sensabaugh would either take a step-back jumper (much like Liddell), pass it off to a teammate or find a way to get fouled.

All of that said, it's about the process, not the result, especially considering Ohio State still won the game.

Sensabaugh finished with 13 points, two rebounds, one assist, two steals and a block in the win over Rutgers while making 5-of-11 shots, including 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc in a career-high 31 minutes. The Orlando, Florida native had a team-best plus-14 in the win.

“He’s really hungry to get better,” Holtmann said. “Brice is a tremendous kid. He’s been raised really well. He wants to get better, and he will. He was highly engaged tonight, and we need him.”

Nine games into the season, the Buckeyes have had four different players – Zed Key (four), Justice Sueing (two), Sensabaugh (two), and Sean McNeil (one) – lead the team in scoring in a game. The fact that Holtmann and company trusted Sensabaugh enough to call his number late in the game, especially considering a guy like Key (22 points, 14 rebounds) was dominating, tells you all you need to know about the potential that Sensabaugh has going forward.

"There will be a number of guys we got to late that we've identified and (Sensabaugh) will certainly be one of them," Holtmann said. "All in all, that kind of performance in your first Big Ten game is really solid."

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