Ohio State Buckeyes

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Ohio State suspends Luther Muhammed and Duane Washington, Jr.

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A reeling Ohio State team just made what should be a gimme home game against Nebraska a little tougher.

Contributors Luther Muhammed and Duane Washington, Jr. have both been suspended, Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann announced Tuesday shortly before tipoff. The suspension is for “failing to meet team expectations.”

The Buckeyes have lost four-straight against strong competition – West Virginia (neutral floor), Wisconsin (home), Maryland (away) and Indiana (away) but are slipping considerably in a hotly-contested Big Ten.  Nebraska is just 7-9 overall and 2-3 in the league, but does own victories over Iowa and Purdue.

The suspensions could last longer than just the game against the Huskers, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Washington is averaging 10.7 points per game while Muhammad, a 15-game starter now coming off the bench, is averaging 6.5 points per game. Perhaps most importantly, it leaves Holtmann and the Buckeyes exceedingly thin at guard with CJ Walker and D.J. Carton the only other backcourt options on the roster.

Ten Things to Know: Long road losing streaks end during wild day of college hoops

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College basketball was all about big road wins.

The Big 12 and ACC saw two huge road losing streaks end. The rest of the day saw some upsets along with an injury to keep tabs on.

BAYLOR GOT ITS FIRST-EVER WIN IN PHOG ALLEN FIELDHOUSE

Everything you need to know about the biggest game of the day can be found right here.

CLEMSON GOT ITS FIRST-EVER WIN (IN 60 TRIES!) IN CHAPEL HILL

Clemson basketball kicked off a big sports weekend for the school. The Tigers snapped their 0-59 mark in Chapel Hill with a 79-76 double-overtime win over North Carolina.

Brad Brownell’s team celebrated in euphoric fashion.

This isn’t your typical ACC road win. It was one of the premier streaks in college basketball. Clemson and North Carolina first played men’s basketball during the 1925-26 season. Both programs are founding members of the ACC.

Same conference.

Since 1953.

So for the Tigers to FINALLY earn a win in Chapel Hill, even if North Carolina happens to be down right now, is a monumental accomplishment.

For North Carolina, the recent freefall continues. The Tar Heels have lost three straight and dropped to 1-4 in ACC play. Following the loss, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams made some emotional remarks blaming himself.

Even though North Carolina is well outside of the top 25, they remain one of the most compelling teams in college hoops.

WEST VIRGINIA SHUTS DOWN TEXAS TECH

Things weren’t particularly pretty in Morgantown on Saturday night. Using seemingly its whole roster to wear down the Red Raiders, West Virginia earned an impressive Big 12 home win.

Despite only making three shots from three-point range on the night, West Virginia held a comfortable advantage thanks to one of the nation’s best defenses. The Mountaineers held Texas Tech to 28 percent shooting. The Red Raiders simply had no answer for the swarm of West Virginia defenders.

While West Virginia has continued to climb up the national rankings with an underrated array of quad one wins, this is one of the program’s best wins this season. The Mountaineers are surely a contender in the Big 12. The major question becomes if they are more than just a conference title contender. And more of a potential national title contender.

NICK RICHARDS IS THE KEY TO KENTUCKY’S SEASON

Over the course of the last four games, No. 14 Kentucky has asserted themselves as one of the best teams in college basketball once again. They’ve knocked off Louisville, Missouri, Georgia and Alabama during that run, and it should come as no coincidence that the best stretch of Kentucky’s season has come at the same time that Nick Richards has played the best basketball of his career.

In those four games, Richards is averaging 16.0 points, 10.0 boards and 2.5 blocks, but more importantly, he’s staying on the floor for more than 29 minutes per game. He’s starting to figure things out, and that, in turn, has helped build his confidence, his belief in himself.

“You can’t coach a kid’s confidence,” a source close to Kentucky said. “He needs to build it himself.”

He’s posting harder, he’s demanding the ball, he’s doing all of the things that Kentucky has been waiting for him to two do two-and-a-half years. And it hasn’t only helped Richards, the guards that feed him the rock have confidence in him as well. If you’re a point guard and you know Richards doesn’t want the ball, are you going to give him a post touch? Are you going to throw a post entry when you don’t think anything good will happen?

Saturday proved my point.

In the first half against Alabama, Richards had 11 points, six boards and four blocks, and Kentucky went into the break with a 45-35 lead. He finished with just two points in the second half, and Alabama cut the lead to one in the final two minutes.

OHIO STATE HAS NOW LOST FOUR STRAIGHT GAMES

The 12th-ranked Buckeyes dropped to 11-5 on the season and 1-4 in the Big Ten after losing their fourth straight game on Saturday, 66-54, to Indiana.

During that four game losing streak, Ohio State has shot 28-for-97 from three, a cool 28.9 percent. Prior to the start of this losing streak, after they beat Kentucky in Las Vegas and when they were sitting at No. 1 in KenPom and splitting votes with Gonzaga for No. 1 in the AP poll, the Buckeyes were shooting 41.5 percent from three as a team.

The reason why they are struggling from beyond the arc is a bigger question. Part of it is just regression — water eventually finds itself — and part of it is that as D.J. Carton has struggled, who had seven turnovers on Saturday, Ohio State’s offense has struggled. They don’t have the individual playmakers to create offense for themselves, and if Carton (and C.J. Walker) are struggling to create easy shots for their teammates, Ohio State becomes really limited offensively.

Oh, and should I mention that Ohio State’s second-leading scorer, Duane Washington, didn’t take a single shot and was benched for the final 30 minutes. He’s either hurt or Chris Holtmann is fed up with his defensive lapses.

Either way, what was clicking for the first month of the season is clearly no longer working.

AUBURN AND SAN DIEGO STATE ARE STILL UNDEFEATED

The No. 5 Tigers cruised past Georgia at home, winning 82-60, while the No. 7 Aztecs took care of business against Boise State at home, 83-65.

Auburn’s biggest tests of the season to date will come next week, as they travel to take on Alabama and Florida. SDSU heads to Fresno State on Tuesday and then will host Nevada next weekend.

OBI TOPPIN ROLLED HIS ANKLE

The star big man for No. 15 Dayton stepped on someone’s foot early in the second half of an 88-60 win over UMass and had to leave the game. He ended up leaving the game and returning to his team’s bench with a boot on his left foot.

Toppin told reporters after the game that, “it’s good.” Head coach Anthony Grant, speaking in his press conference after the game, said that he thought it was a sprained ankle and that the team would know more in the next 24 hours, but he did not sound overly concerned.

VIRGINIA DROPS SECOND STRAIGHT TO UNRANKED OPPONENT

It’s looking like defending national champion Virginia will fall out of the top 25 next week. A second consecutive loss to an unranked team on Saturday likely sealed the Cavaliers’ new fate.

After falling on the road at Boston College last game, Virginia fell to Syracuse at home.  The Orange earned an unlikely overtime win while also avenging its season-opening home loss to the ‘Hoos.

Hitting some massive three-pointers once overtime started, the Orange played completely free and with a lot of confidence once the extra session started. It also pointed to a continuing glaring issue Virginia has faced. Who is this team’s go-to player when they need a bucket?

Things don’t get easier for Virginia when they head on the road to Florida State next game. With three of their next four coming on the road, the Cavaliers have some work to do to stay with the ACC’s best.

GONZAGA AND DUKE CRUISE TO VICTORY

Easy day for No. 1 and No. 2 on Saturday.

Gonzaga made quick work of Loyola Marymount. The Bulldogs won by 25 on the road.

In the ACC, Duke ran past Wake Forest. The Blue Devils were fueled by Tre Jones in a 31-point victory.

MYLES POWELL, SETON HALL OUTDUEL MARKUS HOWARD, MARQUETTE

CBT’s Preseason All-America Team featured Myles Powell and Markus Howard both on the first team.

So Saturday’s Big East clash between Seton Hall and Marquette was must-see TV. Both stars finished an identical 8-for-22 from the field as Howard dropped 27 points and Powell delivered 23 points.

Most importantly, however, was the Pirates claiming the 69-55 Big East win. Seton Hall has six straight wins since Powell returned to the lineup from a concussion. Saturday’s win gives the Pirates a leg up on the rest of the league and Powell a leg up on Howard with one matchup to go.

Not many people seem to be talking about Seton Hall. That’s a mistake. This team is playing really well over the last several weeks and look like the possible team to beat in the Big East.

No. 12 Maryland scores solid Big Ten home win over No. 11 Ohio State

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Maryland secured a very good Big Ten home win on Tuesday night as the No. 12 Terrapins held off No. 11 Ohio State with a 67-55 victory.

Using stifling defense and balanced scoring, Maryland picked up what could be another quad one win while maintaining pace with the Big Ten’s top teams. Senior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. paced the Terps with 20 points while soundly outplaying his Ohio State lead-guard counterparts.

Maryland (13-2, 3-1) also had 11 points from Jalen Smith and 10 points from Darryl Morsell. Six players for the Terps scored at least seven points each on a night where they didn’t need one player to take over. Coupled with the team’s impressive defense and it was a very strong win for Maryland.

Maryland did a strong job of defending on the interior.  Smith and freshman Chol Marial were both capable of slowing down Ohio State big man Kaleb Wesson and limiting his touches. The Maryland defense dared Ohio State’s perimeter shooting to beat them.

The Buckeyes simply had no answer if the Wesson brothers weren’t creating inside.

Ohio State shot 18 percent (5-for-27) from three-point range with 14 turnovers. Kaleb (15 points) and Andre Wesson (14 points) were consistent offensive threats for Ohio State when they weren’t bogged down by a collapsing Maryland defense. Freshman point guard D.J. Carton also chipped in 14 points with some garbage-time buckets to offset an up-and-down night. Outside of them? Ohio State had next to nothing.

Missing Kyle Young (injury) and dealing with a sluggish C.J. Walker (illness), the Buckeyes weren’t close to full strength. It didn’t help that Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. also both had off-shooting games. Muhammad and Washington were a combined 0-for-11 from three-point range on Tuesday.

After looking like one of college basketball’s elite teams early in the season, Ohio State is struggling. They’ve gone from the No. 1 team in the country at 9-0 to now losing four of their last six games. And while you can blame some missing rotation pieces and an off-shooting night for a loss to a top-12 team on the road the lack of offense is a troubling sign for the Buckeyes.

Point-guard play has to be more consistent for Ohio State while the outside shooting has to get better to make things easier for Kaleb Wesson.

Maryland’s win is particularly important given the team’s upcoming Big Ten schedule. Four of the next five games are on the road for the Terps as this will be a critical stretch to assess if this team is a Big Ten contender.

No. 5 Ohio State bounces back, rout Southeast Missouri State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was interested to see how his team would bounce back after suffering its first loss of the season on Sunday at Minnesota.

Holtmann was not impressed, however, after his Buckeyes committed 13 first-half turnovers and led struggling Southeast Missouri State by just nine points at halftime.

But the fifth-ranked Buckeyes pulled it together with a commanding 22-2 second-half run and pulled away for an 80-48 victory over the visiting Redhawks.

“I’m frustrated with the turnovers,” Holtmann said. “I’m disappointed and frustrated, and we’ve got to figure out how to correct it. But I also recognize we had some youth out there, too.”

Kaleb Wesson scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Ohio State (10-1), which dropped two spots in the AP Top 25 after the loss to Minnesota.

“We just weren’t playing Ohio State basketball,” Wesson said of his team’s play at Minnesota, as well as the first half against Southeast Missouri State. “We had to get out of our own way a little bit. We needed to go back to having fun.”

Andre Wesson scored 14 points, while Kyle Young and D.J. Carton each had 10 points for the Buckeyes.

D.Q. Nicholas and Isaiah Gable each had 10 points for Southeast Missouri State (3-8), which shot 27% from the floor (16 of 60) in losing its fourth straight game.

“There’s a reason they are a top-five team,” Southeast Missouri State coach Rick Ray said. “I imagine they will stay that way with all the weapons they have and how locked in they are defensively.”

Ohio State hit 64% of its shots from the floor (14 of 22) in the first half. But the Buckeyes only led 35-26 at the break because of turnovers.

“We didn’t play with enough force and strength in the first half,” Holtmann said. “It was passing, catching, feeding the post, catching with one hand or we didn’t run the right play and we ran into bodies. It’s all stuff we need to work through.”

The teams traded baskets to start the second half before Ohio State went on a 22-2 run. Carton hit two 3s while Luther Muhammad and Kaleb Wesson each hit one during the burst, and Young and Andre Wesson each had three-point plays as the Buckeyes went ahead 59-30 with 11:33 left.

Andre Wesson hit three 3-pointers in a 90-second span to push the lead to 78-40 with 3:15 remaining.

The Buckeyes hope to carry momentum from the second half into Saturday’s showdown with No. 6 Kentucky in Las Vegas.

“I feel like tonight helped us get back in our rhythm,” Kaleb Wesson said. “We hit shots. We were finding the open man in the second half. But you don’t know till you get in those big games and guys are pulling through in those situations.”

BIG PICTURE

Southeast Missouri State: This has been a rough 1-6 stretch for the Redhawks, who have not played a home game since Nov. 22. Southeast Missouri State has one more road game before getting back home against Missouri Baptist on Dec. 29.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes will need to be at their best as they play three ranked teams among their next four games. Getting the injured Washington back to ease the offensive burden will help.

INJURIES

Ohio State played its second straight game without sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr., who was sidelined with an apparent rib injury. Washington is the team’s second leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. His status remains unclear for Saturday’s game against Kentucky.

“I don’t know right now,” Holtmann said. “He is still day-to-day. He could not have played today. He has been out a significant amount. He has not done anything significant in practice since the Penn State game (on Dec. 7).”

Kaleb Wesson also was banged up. He suffered a knee injury early in Tuesday’s game. Later, he sustained a busted lip and a slight ankle sprain.

UP NEXT

Southeast Missouri State: At Southern Illinois on Saturday.

Ohio State: Plays No. 6 Kentucky in Las Vegas on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Buckeye guards star; Marquette rallies; LSU loses to VCU

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There were top-25 teams in action, the Gavitt Games rolled on and there was something of an awkward homecoming in Richmond.

Here are the most important things you need to know from the action around the country Wednesday.

Ohio State’s guards can elevate the Buckeyes

When we talk about Ohio State, we inevitably start with the Buckeyes’ frontcourt. And with good reason. Kaleb Wesson is a hulking 6-foot-9, 270-pound throwback double-double machine. He’s the type of player we just don’t see as often anymore up front, and as such, few teams have a true counter for him.

What we saw Wednesday in the Buckeyes’ 76-51 dismantling of Villanova, though, was that Chris Holtmann’s guards might hold the key to success in Columbus this season. If nothing else, they certainly opened a lot of eyes against the Wildcats.

Duane Washington Jr (14), Luther Muhammad (11), D.J. Carter (11) and CJ Walker (10) all scored in double-figures while Walker had seven assists, Washington had five rebounds and Carton had five rebounds and five assists. That’s on top of Wesson doing Wesson things like recording 10 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and three assists.

If the Buckeyes’ guards can give them this kind of production, it’s really not much of a leap to consider this team a serious threat to Michigan State in the Big Ten, and maybe even a bigger contender nationally than we’ve given them credit for this preseason. The team that took apart Villanova on Wednesday night looked like a team that could make it to Atlanta in April. It was that complete a performance.

It’s easy to draw a line from this Ohio State performance against Villanova to Michigan’s last year against Jay Wright’s team, which took a 27-point L to John Beilein last November. The ‘Cats ultimately bounced back and found their stride, but that lopsided result probably said more about how good that Wolverines team was as they eventually went on to secure a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.

Can the Buckeyes replicate that path? That question is probably best answered with another – can their guards replicate the night they had against Villanova?

Marquette erases 18-point deficit to beat Purdue

Marquette is one of the country’s biggest question marks. There were a few fleeting moments last spring when they looked like a national title contender when Markus Howard decided to return to school, but the Golden Eagles were flung into the “mystery” category after the Hauser brothers decided to bolt, leaving Marquette with an interesting albeit uncertain roster.

Steve Wojciechowski’s team looked like it answered some questions Wednesday, coming from 18 behind to defeat Purdue, 65-55, in Milwaukee.

Howard was his dynamic self with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists on 6 of 12 shooting, but it was the play of Kobe McEwen that is perhaps the most promising. The Utah State transfer went for 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal to help Marquette claw back and win the game.

Marquette needs McEwen to be that productive this season as an offensive second option as defenses do everything they can to try to bottle up Howard. If McEwen can not only be a viable No. 2 but make teams truly pay for throwing the kitchen sink at Howard defensively, Marquette can be closer to that upper-echelon Big East team we thought they might be last spring rather than the enigma they became this summer.

Purdue, meanwhile, saw its offense implode, shooting 33.9 percent from the floor and 25 percent from 3-point range. Given the departures from last year’s team, offense is understandably a work in progress, though that progression looked stalled in a second half in which Matt Painter’s team scored just 17 points – while buckling defensively, giving up 40 to Marquette.

Will Wade loses to his former school

As a program that sends many of its coaches on to bigger stages and brighter lights, VCU has figured out quite a few ways to make their status as a stepping stone to their advantage. First off, it’s an attractive job for talented coaches because of the track record. A smaller, but interesting, way the Rams have maneuvered is to work into the coaches’ contract that if they leave for another gig, they have to bring that team back to Richmond.

That’s why LSU and Will Wade were in town Wednesday, taking a 84-82 loss. If they hadn’t, Wade would have owed VCU $250,000.

That bit of info turned out to be at least a little funny, given that a few VCU students dressed up as FBI agents as an allusion to reports that Wade was caught on a wiretap discussing a “strong-ass offer” to a recruit as part of the federal government’s investigation into corruption into college basketball.

Here’s guessing Wade and LSU get plenty of this treatment throughout the season, though it’s probably worth noting the Tigers made it to the Sweet 16 last year amid the controversy and Wade hasn’t missed a beat on the recruiting trail – they inked five-star Trendon Watford last May – so whatever lingering controversy there may be probably isn’t going to be too bothersome to them.

Hot start helps No. 18 Ohio State rout No. 10 Villanova

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Duane Washington Jr. had 14 points and four other players scored in double figures as No. 18 Ohio State started hot and ran over No. 10 Villanova 76-51 on Wednesday night.

Washington opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers to set the tone as the Buckeyes moved to 3-0 with a significant early-season victory.

D.J. Carton and Luther Muhammad each had 11 points, and CJ Walker and Kaleb Wesson added 10 apiece.

Jermaine Samuels had 14 points and Cole Swider had 11 for the Wildcats (1-1), who shot poorly out of the gate and managed just 30.6% for the game. They were held to a dozen points in the first 16 minutes.

The Buckeyes came out firing, bolted to a 19-3 lead, led by as many as 27 and held a 40-22 advantage at the intermission of this Gavitt Tipoff Game, a November series that matches up the Big Ten and the Big East.

Villanova was stunned by the Buckeyes’ start and didn’t show signs of life until a 9-0 run late in the first half. Kyle Young started the second half with a dunk and the Buckeyes never backed off the gas, leading by as many as 30.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: Starting a pair of freshmen, Villanova shot poorly and could never catch up with the hustling Buckeyes. The crowd in Columbus chanted “overrated,” which could be the case.

Ohio State: Most everything was clicking in the Buckeyes’ third game of the season. If they can sustain it, they should be able to play with nearly any team in the country.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Hosts Ohio on Saturday.

Ohio State: Hosts Stetson on Monday.