Ohio State Hopes to Solve Scoring Issues vs. Nebraska
There is no Easy Button for the Ohio State's struggling offense in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
Not even the one that works for most teams afflicted like the Buckeyes (11-5) have been would be ideal for them as they get ready to host Nebraska (7-9) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Scoring under 60 points in all four defeats, OSU could reasonably be expected to quicken the tempo and try getting some easier baskets in transition, since its half-court attack has ground to dust lately.
But doing that would limit leading scorer Kaleb Wesson's touches in the post, which comes with a down side.
"By all accounts, our best player is a guy who needs the ball, (needs) to touch the ball a lot of possessions," said Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, who dropped from No. 11 to No. 21 after two losses last week. "If you're racing up and down the floor and shooting it too quick you eliminate that opportunity."
Wesson has lost more than 30 pounds since his plodding days of last year, but he's still no gazelle in transition.
He can be effective shooting three-point attempts as a trailer on the break, but his reliability from there has suffered over the last four games at the same time his teammates' long-range radar has also malfunctioned.
OSU has shot 35% or worse from three in each of its defeats, including an abysmal 19% at Maryland a week ago.
"The tendency as coaches is to try to control the game more when you are struggling offensively," Holtmann said. "Whether that's set plays or slowing things down to try to put the pieces where you want to be.
"I think for us we still have to find ways to attack in transition with the right guys. I think we still have to look at early post-ups in transition when we can. I think that's a conversation we'll have as a staff, 'So we need to play faster or slower?' "
Ohio State's scoring has free-fallen from 79.2 points per-game during its 11-1 start to 56.3 points during its losing streak, featuring a decline in points every game from 59 to 57 to 55 to 54.
"I think we're all a connected group," freshman forward E.J. Liddell said. "The ball is going to find a way into the basket sooner or later. We've all been connected throughout the losses. We've been connected throughout the wins. I feel like we're going to stay connected throughout the season. It's just a little trouble. It' s nothing we can't figure out."
OSU experienced a five-game losing streak last January, righted the ship, then weathered a three-game losing streak to end the regular season when Wesson sat for two weeks after violating the school's substance-abuse policy.
The Buckeyes recovered to beat Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament to gain an NCAA berth, then upset Iowa State before falling to third-seeded Houston.
That OSteam wasn't nearly as talented or deep as this one, but it routinely played close games and learned how to persevere.
Holtmann is still waiting for this group to learn that lesson.
"When you have the success we did early on, it's easy to become complacent," junior forward Kyle Young said. "I don't really think that was a big issue for us, but I think we became a little bit too relaxed. With losing that edge, we have to have that swagger to us where we come out there and have something to prove every game. That's what we're trying to work on getting back right now."
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