Stagnant Offense Brings Ohio State's Third Straight Loss
The Ohio State offense that flowed freely amid a 9-0 start to the season has gone missing to the extent head coach Chris Holtmann might start searching for it in the witness protection program.
Missing 12 straight shots in one stretch of the second half, No. 11 OSU suffered a 67-55 defeat at No. 12 Maryland on Tuesday night and thus absorbed a third straight defeat that lowered its Big Ten record to 1-3.
That's a far cry from expectations that greeted the Buckeyes' hot start, which slowed with a loss in their first conference road game at Minnesota and has since hit the skids over the last 10 days.
West Virginia, Wisconsin and now Maryland have humbled Ohio State over that stretch.
Its point totals have steadily deteriorated every game, going from 59 against WVU to 57 against Wisconsin to 55 against Maryland.
"We struggled making shots," Holtmann said. "That's the biggest thing...We had a stretch there where they had three or four empty possessions. We just could not get enough conversions at the other end to get it to a one possession game."
OSU is disjointed right now on multiple fronts, trying to compensate for the absence of forward Kyle Young, whose hustle underneath often translates into hard-working baskets that sustain the offense when it's not in rhythm.
Young still hasn't recovered adequately from a Dec. 29 appendectomy to be cleared for game participation.
In addition, teammate C.J. Walker fell ill on the trip and ceded his starting spot at point guard to freshman D.J. Carton, further juggling OSU's rotation.
That necessitated Holtmann inserting Justin Ahrens and Alonzo Gaffney off the bench in the game's first 10 minutes, which isn't customary.
Predictably, the Buckeyes struggled to get comfortable against the Terrapins' length.
Even the 8-0 lead OSU claimed at the outset was a mirage, coming despite a 3-of-12 start from the field. Eight of those tries came from 3-point range, indicating Ohio State's willingness to settle for jumpers instead of working for higher-percentage opportunities.
Things only got worse after that 2-of-8 start from beyond the arc.
The Buckeyes finished 5-of-27 for a season-low 18.5 percent.
"I thought we had some decent looks by some guys," Holtmann said. "I thought we had some clean threes that we'll make. We just did not make them tonight."
Luther Muhammed missed all six of his 3-point attempts. Duane Washington shot 0-of-5 beyond the arc and C.J. Walker went 0-for-4.
All three players entered shooting better than 40 percent from three.
Maryland entered making 31 percent of its three-point attempts, but hit 7-of-11 in the first half to overcome its early 8-0 deficit and claim a 28-22 lead it expanded thereafter.
Ohio State will try to break its three-game losing streak Saturday at Indiana in a noon start.