Basketball

Buckeyes Stifle IUPUI In 83-37 Blowout | Three Takeaways From OSU’s Easy Win

The No. 19 Buckeyes (12-4, 5-2) held IUPUI (1-15, 0-6) to just 13 second-half points in an 83-37 blowout Tuesday night at Value City Arena. Ohio State came into this game as 33-point favorites, which is exactly the number of points the Jaguars were outscored by in the second half.

Sophomore wing Eugene Brown III scored a game-high and career-high 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting. He came off the bench in the first half for six points and then started the second half in place of Justin Ahrens and added eight more points. Brown also added his standard defensive presence as well.

EJ Liddell scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Cedric Russell added 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from three-point range. Backup point guard Jimmy Sotos handed out a game-high nine assists for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State opened with a 9-0 run before the first media timeout as Malaki Branham dropped in a pair of layups, Liddell drained a three, and Zed Key nabbed a basket in the paint. The first IUPUI field goal finally came at the 15:01 mark of the first half on a contested layup by Chuks Isitua. The Jaguars would score five in a row to make it a 9-5 game with 14 minutes to play, which would also be the closest they would get for the rest of the game.

Ohio State built a 37-24 lead at the half, and then they really turned on the defense. The Jaguars shot just 4-of-21 from the field in the second half, including 1-of-8 from three-point territory. They also turned the ball over 13 times over the game’s final 20 minutes.

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, shot 16-of-24 (.667) from the field in the second half and 7-of-11 (.636) from three-point range. They had 13 assists on their 16 made field goals and turned the ball over just three times. Forward Kyle Young scored nine points in the second half, making all four of his field goal attempts.

Newly adorned scholarship-haver Harrison Hookfin added two points in his four minutes of action.

Ohio State outscored IUPUI 48-20 off the bench and 32-14 in the paint.

Lights Out Shooting

One of the Jekyll & Hyde aspects of this basketball team is their three-point shooting. Sometimes — such as in the second half of this game when they hit 7-of-11 from deep — the Buckeyes can shoot the lights out. And other times — such as in the first half of this game — the Buckeyes can shoot as if the lights are out and they cannot see the rim. Ohio State shot 4-of-12 from three in the first half, which was made worse because the starters were a combined 3-of-10. Malaki Branham still does not have a consistent deep game, but the good news is that he continues to shoot. Justin Ahrens remains a concern, especially after missing four of his five attempts in this game, including both three-point shots in the first half. Ohio State needs their starters to be more consistent from the perimeter, which didn’t happen in the second half either because Ahrens was the only starter to shoot a three in the game’s final 20 minutes.

Brown In

Eugene Brown got the start in the second half instead of Justin Ahrens which is as much a statement of how well Brown is playing at the moment and how poorly Ahrens continues to shoot. Ahrens had at least three wide-open looks and only made one, and after which he shook his head with what looked to be equal parts relief and frustration. Brown, meanwhile, added length and physicality to the Ohio State defense, as well as some perimeter shooting (1-of-2 from deep), as well as some points in the paint. It will be interesting to watch how head coach Chris Holtmann handles this situation moving forward, and whether or not Brown can continue to add offense when Big Ten play continues this weekend.

Where’s The Push?

The Buckeyes forced 21 turnovers in this game and outscored IUPUI 31-6 in points off turnovers. Oddly, however, none of those points came via the fastbreak. In fact, Ohio State was outscored in this game 2-0 in fastbreak points. Forcing as many turnovers as OSU did — and also as many missed shots as IUPUI produced — you’d think that there’d be some fastbreak opportunities. Perhaps this was a mandate by Chris Holtmann to play a half-court game. Being scheduled just a week ago, this was a game that was bought in order to keep the team fresh and to continue working on other areas of concern. Maybe there was nothing to gain from easy baskets in this game.

The Box Score

[Ohio State basketball header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]