Ohio State is tasked with ending a five-game skid for the second time this season when the flailing Buckeyes host Big Ten foe Michigan State on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
It has been a rough stretch for the Buckeyes (11-13, 3-10), who have lost 10 of their past 11 games. The freefall started with five straight losses before defeating Iowa, followed by five more defeats, including a 69-63 home loss to Northwestern on Thursday.
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, who has five consecutive 20-win seasons with the Buckeyes, has come under fire from a disgruntled fan base.
He’s searching for answers and one person he has sought advice from is Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. Holtmann said that when he was ejected late in the first half against Wisconsin on Feb. 2, Izzo called him before the game was over and they’ve talked since.
“He’s obviously a guy that I listen to, because he’s got incredible wisdom and he’s been through it,” Holtmann said Friday. “We haven’t been through a stretch like this, so when I haven’t been through a stretch like this, you are leaning on guys that might be able to just give you a different perspective.”
The Spartans (15-9, 7-6) have had troubles of their own hanging with the top teams in the conference, but a 63-58 win over Maryland on Tuesday brightened their outlook after two straight losses.
“We’re trying to get things rolling, get the ball rolling, and get back on a winning streak,” Michigan State guard A.J. Hoggard said. “Get back in the winning column at least and take off from here and just continue to grow.
“We want to be one of those teams playing in March, late in March. So, we have to do what we do now to make that happen.”
Of interest will be how Holtmann employs freshman guard and team-leading scorer Brice Sensabaugh (16.7 points per game). He has not started the past two games and against Northwestern he scored four points, making 1 of 8 field goals and committing four turnovers in 16 minutes.
–Field Level Media