Friday, Dec 15, 2017
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Ohio State

Holtmann encouraged by Buckeyes' start

COLUMBUS – A month into the college basketball season, Ohio State has been the surprise of the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes, who returned just six scholarship players from a season ago and changed coaches in June, have started 7-3, which includes back-to-back victories to begin Big Ten play. Following a blowout victory at Wisconsin on Saturday, OSU then overcame a 20-point deficit to beat Michigan 71-62 on Monday night.

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Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann shouts to his team during the first half of Monday's game. The Buckeyes started the Big Ten season with back-to-back victories.

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First-year coach Chris Holtmann said this stretch of games has been important for a Buckeyes team with a rotation full of freshman and more veteran players who are logging career-highs in minutes.

Freshmen Musa Jallow (22.8 minutes), Kaleb Wesson (22.3), and Kyle Young (11.0) already have factored into the rotation, and grad transfer Andrew Dakich (14.5) has been a primary ball-handler off the bench.

With so much inexperience in the ranks, Holtmann said earning a few key wins can go long a way.

“I think we’ve made some improvements in some areas, and I think maybe as important as anything is our players have been able to see success,” Holtmann said after being Michigan.

“I think that’s important a new coaching staff, a new group, early in the season – just for them to feel like, hey listen, some of the things we’re working on and communicating can be successful if we stay committed to that.”

While the Buckeyes’ start has been encouraging to Holtmann, their hardest games of the season lie ahead. OSU takes on defending champion North Carolina on Dec. 23 in New Orleans, then resumes Big Ten play Jan. 4 with a two-game stretch at Iowa and against Michigan State.

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz

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