No. 19 Buckeyes take on late addition IUPUI
No. 19 Ohio State takes a breather from Big Ten play Tuesday to host IUPUI in a game that wasn't on the schedule until a week ago.
Both programs, like so many others, have had to deal with the fallout of COVID-19 issues disrupting the season.
The Buckeyes (11-4) canceled nonconference games against Kentucky (Dec. 18), Tennessee Martin (Dec. 21) and New Orleans (Dec. 28) and started looking to add at least one game to the home schedule in Columbus.
Enter IUPUI (1-14). The Jaguars were forced to cancel Horizon League games vs. Cleveland State (Dec. 30), Purdue Fort Wayne (Jan. 1) and Northern Kentucky (Jan. 6).
In an 82-50 loss to Morehead State on Dec. 21, the Jaguars finished the game with just seven available players due to injuries and the health and safety protocol.
It's been that kind of season for first-year Jaguars coach Matt Crenshaw, an IUPUI Hall of Fame member and the program's career assist leader. He was an assistant coach there for 12 seasons before spending the past three seasons as an assistant at Ball State.
With nine consecutive losses, the program is far from the glory days when the Jaguars notched a 26-7 mark in 2007-08, when Crenshaw was an assistant to Ron Hunter, who went on to build a strong program at Georgia State and is now head coach at Tulane.
IUPUI, 8-10 last season, hasn't had a winning season since going 19-15 in 2010-11, Hunter's last season.
"IUPUI has meant so much to me over the course of my time here as a student-athlete, a coach and alum," said Crenshaw, the fourth head coach since Hunter.
"We will strive to not only reach the same level of success as we've had in the past, but also make greater strides in the future."
The Jaguars can be expected to offer little resistance to the Buckeyes. IUPUI's lone win was against Division III Spalding University in November and the Jaguars are last of 350 Division I schools in scoring average (52.2 points) and 342nd in turnovers (16.4).
In an 89-54 defeat at Milwaukee on Saturday, the IUPUI website called it an "ugly road loss" as the team made just one of its first 13 shots.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, struggled offensively against a taut Penn State defense on Sunday before prevailing 61-56. Ohio State didn't make a field goal the final 5:07 of the game and shot 38.6 percent from the floor
"We don't take wins for granted," Ohio State guard Jamari Wheeler said. "We know how hard it is. You'll have hard wins, ugly wins and pretty wins. You just do whatever it takes to get wins."
Ohio State -- which lost at No. 13 Wisconsin last week and dropped three spots in the AP Top 25 Monday -- hopes to use the game against IUPUI to regain its shooting touch and get some backups needed playing time.
"Our offense will be fine. That's the least of our concerns," coach Chris Holtmann said after the game. "We've just got to keep taking good shots."
He said he was pleased by the effort at the other end of the court vs. Penn State.
"It was our best defensive effort since Christmas," he said. "We've had some really poor ones. The biggest thing we've got to be able to do is grow in our defensive effort and I thought this was a good step."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 17, 2022