Ohio State suffered the biggest drop in the Associated Press Top 25 after two double-digit losses last week.
The Buckeyes (22-7, 13-3 Big Ten) lost on the road at Penn State and Michigan and fell from No. 8, the highest position they had held this season, to No. 16 and out of first place in the Big Ten.
Virginia strengthened its hold on No. 1 as it coasts to an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title, while Duke made a big jump after two impressive wins without its top freshman.
The Cavaliers earned 42-of-65 first-place votes in the poll released Monday. That’s 12 more than last week, when they reached No. 1 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era.
The top four remained unchanged, with No. 2 Michigan State earning 19 first-place votes after rallying from 27 behind to beat Northwestern. Third-ranked Villanova got the other four first-place votes after winning at No. 4 Xavier. And Duke jumped seven spots to No. 5 after beating Virginia Tech and Clemson despite playing without Marvin Bagley, the ACC’s scoring and rebounding leader who is recovering from a knee sprain.
Virginia (24-2, 13-1 ACC) long ago took the drama out of the ACC race with a 12-0 start and hasn’t played since winning at Miami last Tuesday. The Cavaliers lead second-place Duke by three games in the loss column and own the head-to-head tiebreaker from their win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 27, so they can clinch at least a share of the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed for the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn by beating Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
It was a tough week at the top of last week’s poll, with seven of the top 10 teams losing at least once, so there was a shuffle Monday.
Texas Tech and Gonzaga were tied for No. 6, with the Red Raiders inching up a spot and the Bulldogs moving up three. Kansas jumped five spots to No. 8 after beating West Virginia, followed by Purdue (which slid three spots) and North Carolina — which has won five straight and climbed four spots to No. 10.
Middle Tennessee checked in at No. 24, marking the first AP Top 25 poll appearance in program history.
Oklahoma and freshman Trae Young — the nation’s scoring and assists leader — went from unranked in the preseason all the way to No. 4 on Jan. 15. But the Sooners have collapsed with five straight losses and that sent them back to unranked status.
Two other teams that had reached the top 5 as of Christmas Day fell out of the poll again. Texas A&M, which peaked at No. 5, fell out from No. 21 after losses to Missouri and Arkansas. Arizona State, which peaked at No. 3, fell out from No. 25 after losing to Arizona.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.: Jordan Poole went on a scoring tear, sending Michigan’s seniors out with a win in their last home game.
The freshman guard came off the bench and scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half to help the 22nd-ranked Wolverines take the lead, and they never trailed in the second half of a 74-62 win over No. 8 Ohio State on Sunday.
“We’re starting where they’re ending,” Poole said. “Them going out on a great note, especially against a Top 10 rivalry team, it’s awesome.”
The Wolverines (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten) beat a rival and helped out another one, giving No. 2 Michigan State a one-game lead atop the conference standings with two games left in the regular season.
Michigan coach John Beilein said the win makes up “a little bit” for a one-point loss to No. 6 Purdue as his team aims to improve its seeding for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
“It certainly helps the resume,” Beilein said.
The Wolverines have won three in a row for the first time since ending a seven-game streak on Jan. 6.
“We’re playing the right way at the right time,” Beilein said.
Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 17 points, Zavier Simpson had 13 and Moe Wagner added 12.
The Buckeyes (22-7, 13-3) have fallen out of first place by losing consecutive Big Ten games for the first time this season.
“If this beats us down, shame on us,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.
Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop had his second consecutive lackluster game, missing 12-of-17 shots and scoring 17 points.
“I’m not worried about him,” Holtmann insisted.
Jae’Sean Tate had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Buckeyes, whose last lead was 18-17 midway through the first half.
Ohio State: Bates-Diop is in a shooting slump and that might be a concern. He made as many shots (two) as he had turnovers in the first half against Michigan and finished with just five baskets on 17 attempts. Bates was 4-of-11 and scored just 10 points in the last loss to Penn State and has missed more than half his shots in three consecutive games. He did score a career-high 35 points two weeks ago against Illinois and is averaging nearly 20 points a game.
“Teams are being really physical and crawling into his space and bodying him up on drives,” Holtmann said. “He’s got to do a better job of adjusting to that.”
Michigan: Poole’s play is encouraging for a team with its leading scorers averaging 10 to 14 points a game in the Big Ten. The freshman scored in double digits in three of his first seven games, including a 19-point performance against Indiana, but had 10 or more points in just four of the next 19 games. He hadn’t scored more than eight points in his previous eight games and was averaging just 4.6 points during the stretch.
“We’re trying to find what the best way is for him to score,” Beilein said. “I love that he’s got that swag.”
Austin Hatch was included in Michigan’s pregame and postgame ceremonies to honor its seniors. The former player survived two deadly plane crashes, killing members of his family, after committing in high school to play for the Wolverines. Hatch, who is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, was on the team his freshman year and later was a student assistant before leaving the program to focus on academics.
“I’m extremely grateful and I’ve done my very best to show my appreciation by how I approach everything here,” Hatch told the crowd .
Ohio State guard Andrew Dakich, who graduated from Michigan, was booed when he checked in the game in the first half and every time he had the ball.
Ohio State: Closes the regular season at home Tuesday night against Rutgers and Friday night at Indiana.
Michigan: Tries to improve its seeding for the Big Ten Yournament with road wins Wednesday night against Penn State and Saturday at Maryland.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: Tony Carr scored 30 points and Penn State routed No. 8 Ohio State 79-56 on Thursday night to sweep of the Buckeyes.
Mike Watkins added 11 points and 10 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the season, and Shep Garner and Josh Reaves added 13 and 10 points apiece for the Nittany Lions (19-9, 9-6 Big Ten), who won their sixth in seven tries since beating the Buckeyes in Columbus on Jan. 25.
C.J. Jackson led Ohio State (22-6, 13-2) with 13 points and Keita Bates-Diop added 10 for the Buckeyes, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
The Nittany Lions took control in the first half with a 12-0 run over 5:06 as the Buckeyes went 0-for-5 in that span.
Carr tossed an alley-oop Watkins’ way and the forward jammed home the run’s second basket to give Penn State the lead for good just 3:20 in.
Penn State added two 7-0 runs and a 6-0 spurt later in the half and Carr buried an awkward layup off a full-court inbounds pass and an ensuing free throw to give Penn State a 45-21 halftime lead.
The Buckeyes trailed by as many as 30 early in the second but used an 18-4 run to cut Penn State’s lead to 16 with 10:32 to play.
Bates-Diop hit a 3-pointer to pull the Buckeyes to 58-42, but they didn’t get any closer.
The big picture
Ohio State: The Buckeyes entered the night a half-game up on No. 2 Michigan State in the Big Ten standings and 1½ ahead of No. 6 Purdue with the head-to-head tiebreaker over both. The Boilermakers fell to Wisconsin on Thursday, so they didn’t gain any ground. But the Buckeyes’ lead isn’t safe with three games left, especially if they shoot as poorly as they did inside the Bryce Jordan Center where they made just 28 percent of their field goals over the first 20 minutes.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions controlled this game from the opening tip thanks to stingy defense that turned into opportunistic offense. They improved to 2-2 against ranked teams this season.
COLUMBUS: Keita Bates-Diop had 14 points and eight rebounds, and No. 14 Ohio State beat Iowa 82-64 on Saturday for sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Kaleb Wesson added 18 points and C.J Jackson scored 14 for the Buckeyes (21-5, 13-1 Big Ten), who were 9-for-20 from 3-point range.
Leading scorer Tyler Cook had just eight points for the Hawkeyes (12-15, 3-11).
Bates-Diop made two early 3-pointers but Iowa made the lanky small forward largely ineffective in the first half. It wasn’t until the latter part of the half and the first four minutes of the second that the Buckeyes eventually pulled away.
Following a 7-0 Iowa run that put the Hawkeyes up 18-15, Ohio State rattled off an 8-0 run of its own with a second-chance layup and two layups in transition after forcing turnovers on three consecutive possessions. Ohio State made eight of its final 10 shots to end the half, which included four 3s, to take a 42-32 lead into the break.
The hot shooting spilled into the early moments of the second half. Jae’Sean Tate drove the baseline to find Jackson in the opposite corner for a 3, then drilled a rare 3 of his own to highlight a 14-0 run and extend the lead to 18 with 15:49 left as the sellout crowd of 18,809 fans roared for one of college basketball’s most surprising teams this season. Ohio State’s largest lead was 29.
The Buckeyes shot 53 percent from the field.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes are a full game ahead of No. 3 Purdue and No. 4 Michigan State in the Big Ten standings and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams. The Buckeyes do not play either team in their four remaining games.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have lost three consecutive games and sit two games behind 10th place in the Big Ten, meaning they would be one of four teams to play on the first day of the conference tournament.
Ohio State: Plays at Penn State on Thursday.
Iowa: Plays at No. 20 Michigan on Wednesday.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.: Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop managed to end the nation’s longest winning streak and shook up the Big Ten title race Wednesday night.
All it took was one big basket.
His putback with 2.8 seconds left capped Ohio State’s final charge, gave the 14th-ranked Buckeyes a 64-63 victory and ended No. 3 Purdue’s school-record 19-game winning streak.
“No. 1 by far,” Bates-Diop said when asked about ranking the final shot, which gave him 18 points and 11 rebounds. “I knew if Tate was going to miss he was going to miss long, so I just went in for the offensive rebound.”
The Buckeyes celebrated on the court and each received their own set of cheers from a smattering of scarlet-and-gray clad fans when they returned to the court, aware they had a share of the league lead.
It was a stunning conclusion to a gritty game.
The Boilermakers (23-3, 12-1 Big Ten) seemed to have control after taking a 14-point lead with 10:17 left and still led 58-51 with 5:29 to go.
But Ohio State finished on a 13-5 spurt and Isaac Haas’ 8-footer at the buzzer came up short for Purdue.
Now, suddenly, Ohio State (21-5, 12-1) has the inside track to the conference title with wins over the Boilermakers and No. 4 Michigan State, which is one game behind the co-leaders. And with home games against Iowa and Rutgers and trips to Penn State and Indiana left, the biggest remaining obstacle might be beating archrival Michigan in Ann Arbor on Feb. 18.
Of course first-year coach Chris Holtmann isn’t looking that far ahead.
“We beat an incredible team and an incredible program tonight,” Holtmann said after winning his first game in Indiana since leaving Butler. “This may have been the best road environment I’ve ever coached in. What an environment. Players win games and our older guys did that.”
For Purdue, the loss marked the end of one of the greatest 2½ stretches the tradition-rich school has ever seen.
They lost for the first time since Nov. 23, for the first time on American soil all season, for the first time in 22 home games and for the first time in 15 conference games.
Yet on a night when only four Boilermakers actually scored, they still nearly pulled it off.
Carsen Edwards finished with a career-high 28 points, had six rebounds and three assists. Haas scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half and Vincent Edwards wound up with 11 points, nine rebounds and gave Purdue a 63-62 lead by completing a three-point play with 51.7 seconds left.
But Andrew Dakich kept Ohio State’s ensuing possession alive by running down one rebound and Bates-Diop finished it off by grabbing the second and making the basket.
“I think it hurts, but you have to learn from it, honestly,” Haas said. “The things that got us beat in the Bahamas are what got us beat today with rebounding and turnovers.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have won three in a row and 11-of-12 and could now be the hottest team in the conference. They didn’t play great, shooting just 42.1 percent from the field and 6-of-18 on 3s. The difference Wednesday was they made all the plays when they counted most.
Purdue: The hottest team in America kept finding ways to win — until their shooting touch went awry Wednesday. Make no mistake, Purdue remains one of the nation’s top teams and can still win a second consecutive conference crown. But losing this one, on the same night No. 1 Villanova also lost, will sting.
Ohio State: Andre Wesson scored 13 points. Jae’Sean Tate and Musa Jallow each had 10. … Bates-Diop also had three assists. … The Buckeyes got into early foul trouble when Haas drew seven first-half fouls on the three players who tried to defend him. … Ohio State had a 6-2 advantage on offensive rebounds.
Purdue: The only other player to score for Purdue was Dakota Mathias, who made two 3s and had six points. … The Boilermakers finished with their fewest points of the season. … Purdue’s biggest deficit during the streak was 10 points.
He said it
“We couldn’t catch the ball in that last 10 minutes. It wasn’t just one guy,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We were having a tough time simply catching the ball and concentrating. It’s hard to run an offense when you can’t pass or catch.
Ohio State: Heads home to face struggling Iowa on Saturday.
Purdue: Will try to keep its perfect road record intact at No. 4 Michigan State on Saturday.
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/High school
Kamryn Babb WR 6-1 189 St. Louis, Mo./Christian Brothers College
Matthew Baldwin QB 6-3 195 Austin, Texas/Lake Travis
Sevyn Banks CB 6-1 180 Orlando, Fla./Jones
Cameron Brown WR 6-1 175 St. Louis, Mo./Christian Brothers College
Dallas Gant LB 6-3 225 Toledo/St. John’s Jesuit
Jaelen Gill HB 6-1 182 Westerville/South
Marcus Hooker CB 6-0 185 New Castle, Pa./New Castle
Antwuan Jackson DT 6-2 305 Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove/Blinn J.C.
Tyreke Johnson CB 6-1 191 Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy
Matthew Jones OL 6-4 315 Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall
Teradja Mitchell LB 6-2 235 Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan
Nicholas Petit-Frere OT 6-6 272 Tampa, Fla./ Berkeley Prep
K’Vaughan Pope LB 6-2 210 Dinwiddie, Va./Dinwiddie
Josh Proctor S 6-2 190 Owasso, Okla./Owasso
Jeremy Ruckert TE 6-6 240 Lindenhurst, N.Y./Lindenhurst
L’Christian Smith WR 6-6 205 Huber Heights/Wayne
Tyreke Smith DE 6-3 260 Cleveland/Cleveland Heights
Brian Snead RB 5-11 200 Seffner, Fla./Armwood
Master Teague RB 5-11 210 Murfreesboro, Tenn./Blackman
Tommy Togiai DT 6-3 290 Pocatello, Idaho/Highland
Taron Vincent DT 6-2 285 Bradenton, Fla. / IMG Academy
Alex Williams DE 6-7 250 Pickerington/North
Max Wray OT 6-6 289 Franklin, Tenn./Franklin
Eleven players from Ohio State have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
That group is linebacker Jerome Baker, quarterback J.T. Barrett, tight end Marcus Baugh, defensive end Jalyn Holmes, defensive end Sam Hubbard, offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, defensive end Tyquan Lewis, center Billy Price, cornerback Denzel Ward, safety Damon Webb and linebacker Chris Worley.
Ward, a former Nordonia standout, is considered by many to be Ohio State’s top NFL prospect this year. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network has Ward rated as the draft’s No. 8 overall player.
“Ward is an undersized cornerback (5-foot-10, 191 pounds, per school measurements) with excellent quickness, toughness and ball skills,” Jeremiah wrote. “In press coverage, he is patient and he’ll catch and re-route before settling on the receivers and mirroring down the field. In off coverage, he is a fluid mover and explodes out of his plant to drive on the football. He is very twitched up.”
The combine starts on Feb. 28 and goes until March 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Players will participate in testing workouts, interview with NFL teams and participate in media interviews.
COLUMBUS: With Illinois leading by 11 points with 8:45 left in the first half, Ohio’s State’s Keita Bates-Diop went to work.
Playing in his 100th game for the Buckeyes, Bates-Diop reeled off 11 unanswered points including two dunks, a 3-pointer and a tip-in off an offensive rebound. No. 17 Ohio State ended the half ahead by four and outlasted the pesky Illini in the second half to win 75-67 on Sunday.
There were other outstanding moments in the game for Bates-Diop, who finished with a career-high 35 points. His 13 rebounds gave him his 10th double-double of the season.
He drained a 3-pointer with 5:04 left in the game to tie the score at 63. He made 13-of-15 free throws, including three in a row in the final 37 seconds to seal the game for the Buckeyes.
“I think Keita showed why he’s MVP of the league,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “We knew that coming in. He’s a very, very difficult matchup for us.”
Jae’Sean Tate scored 11 points, and Kaleb Wesson had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Buckeyes (20-5, 11-1), who have won three in a row and 10 of their past 11. They move on to a showdown with No. 3 Purdue on Wednesday to determine first place in the Big Ten.
It was anything but easy for the Buckeyes, who were playing without suspended guard Kam Williams.
They committed 15 turnovers that led to 16 Illinois points and were just 3-for-16 from beyond the 3-point line. They didn’t get the game in hand until Wesson grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up to open the lead to 72-67 with 48 seconds left.
“That one was as tough as it comes,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Illini (12-12, 2-9), who have yet to come away with a road victory this season. Mark Alstork paced Illinois with 19 points, and Trent Frazier chipped in 12.
Holtmann, in his first year at OUS after a successful run at Butler, now has won 20 or more games in each of his last five full years as a head coach.
Illinois: The Illini hustled but didn’t have enough to beat the more talented Buckeyes. The result was another disappointing loss in a game they could have won.
“I feel bad for our guys,” Underwood said. “We are playing good enough basketball to beat anybody in this league. I really believe that.”
Ohio State: A team near the bottom of the Big Ten gave the Buckeyes a scare. Did they miss Williams, whose suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules was announced hours before the game? Or were they looking ahead to Purdue?
“We were glad to get the win, to be honest,” Bates-Diop said.
Kam could be back
Holtmann wouldn’t disclose what he did wrong but said he expects Williams, a senior averaging 8 points per game, to return.
“We expect him back at some point,” Holtmann said. “But it’s going to be kind of a day-to-day decision.”
In his place, sophomore Andre Wesson started next to his brother Kaleb, a true freshman, for the first time since an Ohio high school championship game in 2016 when both were key players for Westerville South in the Columbus suburbs. That game also was played at Value City Arena in Columbus.
Illinois: Hosts Wisconsin on Thursday.
Ohio State: Visits No. 3 Purdue on Wednesday.
COLUMBUS: After starting slow at times this season, No. 17 Ohio State didn’t waste time jumping all over Indiana on Tuesday night.
Indiana’s Zach McRoberts hit two quick shots, one of them a 3-pointer, in the first 1:14 to put the Hoosiers up by one, but Ohio State reeled off a 10-0 run and didn’t relinquish the lead again in a 71-56 victory for the Buckeyes.
“I think they set the tone early with their physicality on both ends of the floor and knocked us on our heels pretty quick,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “And we were working uphill from there most of the night.”
Jae’Sean Tate had 16 points as Ohio State (19-5, 10-1 Big Ten) bounced back strong from last week’s buzzer-beater loss to Penn State that dropped them three places in the AP Top 25 poll and out of a tie with Purdue for first place in the conference.
Kaleb Wesson added 14 points and Keita Bates-Diop had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Ohio State. Wesson was 7-for-7 shooting and has made 11 in a row going back to Thursday’s loss to Penn State.
Devonte Green scored 20 for the Hoosiers (12-11, 5-6), who have lost three in a row and four of five. Indiana, playing its fourth game in eight days including an emotional loss to rival Purdue on Sunday, shot just 36.4 percent from the floor after hitting better than 50 percent in the past three games.
The Hoosiers’ defense was suspect, too. They had trouble stopping the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Wesson when he went to the basket in the lane. The fact that their most effective post player, 6-foot-10 De’Ron Davis, is sidelined with an injury was a glaring factor.
“We had no answer for the big fella,” Miller said. “It’s killing us right now inside. We’re getting paralyzed just in terms of sheer size of certain guys, and I thought Kaleb did a really good job tonight for them.”
Ohio State shot 55.8 percent, with 40 of its points coming in the paint.
The Buckeyes led 38-23 at the half, and Indiana couldn’t get any closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
“I think we did a good job getting back on track tonight,” Tate said. “You see it all the time where teams take one loss, and it becomes another loss and another loss. I think our mindset and our approach really went back to what it was when we got on that (winning) stretch back at the beginning. We had to remind ourselves to play with that chip and play with that energy.”
COLUMBUS: Tony Carr hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Penn State an 82-79 upset victory over No. 13 Ohio State on Thursday night, handing the Buckeyes their first Big Ten loss.
Carr had 28 points and was 4-for-5 from 3-point range for the Nittany Lions (14-8, 4-5 Big Ten), who were a 11-for-14 from beyond the arc in beating a Top 25 team for the first time this season.
For Ohio State, playing its fifth game in 11 days, it was a huge disappointment in what has been a surprisingly good season.
Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State (18-5, 9-1) with 25 points but was in foul trouble for much of the second half. He had three 3-pointers in the last 2:07 to pull the Buckeyes back in it. He tied it with a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left, but Carr was able to connect with the desperation shot from deep as time ran out.
The Buckeyes had beaten much tougher teams on the way to winning the first nine conference games. But they allowed Penn State to jump out to an early lead on four consecutive 3-pointers and had trouble turning momentum back their way until the final minutes.
Struggling from the 3-point line in recent games, the Buckeyes didn’t hit one until Bates-Diop connected at the 5:31 mark in the first half. They were 1-for-6 from beyond the arc in the half, and 7-for-15 overall.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions came out firing, kept the pressure on and picked up their biggest win of a season in which they have struggled in the road.
Ohio State: Were the Buckeyes tired? They’ve played a lot of games lately and were awfully slow to get started. They had to rally late to stay in it, but the result was a loss to a team they should have beaten.
Penn State: Hosts Rutgers on Saturday.
Ohio State: Hosts Indiana on Tuesday.
COLUMBUS: Keita Bates-Diop scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and No. 13 Ohio State beat Nebraska 64-59 on Monday night, the fourth victory for the surging Buckeyes in the last eight days.
The back-and-forth game had seven lead changes in the second half. A pair of foul shots by Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. cut Ohio State’s lead to four with 2:19 remaining, but the Cornhuskers couldn’t pull any closer.
Jae’Sean Tate put the Buckeyes (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) up by six with a layup with 1:02 left, and a pair of foul shots by Kaleb Wesson stretched it to eight. Palmer hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, but Nebraska ran out of time.
Palmer had a career-high 34 points. Nebraska (14-8, 5-4) was fresh off a 20-point upset of then-No. 23 Michigan on Thursday.
Ohio State surpassed its win total for all of last season. Earlier in the day, it moved from No. 22 to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, its highest position since 2014.
Nebraska: The surprising Cornhuskers knocked off a ranked team last week and are a better squad than last season with Palmer carrying the load, but couldn’t outlast the steady Buckeyes.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes may have been fatigued after a rugged traveling schedule and three consecutive games on the road. But they found a rhythm in the second half and picked up another critical Big Ten win over a good team.
Nebraska: At Rutgers on Wednesday.
Ohio State: Hosts Penn State on Thursday.
COLUMBUS: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his assistants annually brace for announcements about elite and not-so-elite players leaving the program early for the NFL Draft.
But Monday’s deadline to declare came and went, and the damage wasn’t so bad for the Buckeyes.
There were some predictable early departures in cornerback Denzel Ward, linebacker Jerome Baker and defensive end Sam Hubbard. They were obvious NFL prospects.
But other names mentioned in the NFL conversation — defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, running back Mike Weber and the top four receivers from last season, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon — will return.
The receivers, a unit known by the nickname “Zone 6,” are especially close. They said the prospect of playing together factored into their decisions to stay around for another year.
“There’s still a lot of things we left on the field last year,” McLaurin said on the first day of winter workouts Friday.
“I didn’t think we would all be back, but it’s definitely exciting,” said Campbell, the team’s leading receiver last season with 40 receptions for 584 yards.
“Sometimes it’s bigger than the money,” said Dixon, who led the team with eight touchdown catches. “Passing up a brotherhood like this [for another year] would be crazy.”
The return of the receivers and Weber, who shared time in the backfield with true freshman J.K. Dobbins last season, is especially good news for an offense directed by a new starting quarterback following the graduation of four-year starter J.T. Barrett.
The front-runner is last season’s backup, Dwayne Haskins, a drop-back passer with a rifle arm who sparked the Buckeyes to a win over Michigan after Barrett went out with a knee injury.
Weber, a rising redshirt junior who was displaced as the starter by Dobbins, said one of the reasons he decided to return is the prospect of more available carries next season. Barrett was a key part of the run game, carrying the ball 165 times for 798 yards on designed keepers and run-pass option plays. Meyer isn’t expected to rely on Haskins to tuck and run nearly as often.
The Buckeyes also will be without six other five-year players who were key contributors last season, including defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes. That’s expected to create more snaps for defensive end Nick Bosa, who is on the verge of becoming the same magnitude of star his brother Joey was at Ohio State.
It also creates opportunities for defensive tackle Jones, who thought about leaving for the NFL but decided to come back. Not having to share so much time with other players, he has a chance for more exposure — and more sacks.
“He’s not just going to [be] a first- and second-down guy anymore,” Bosa said. “The three other ends are gone. He’s going to be in the nickel package for sure. The whole country is going to get to see what he can do pass rushing, which should be fun because nobody really knows that.”
Jones said he’ll make the most of another year of seasoning, but being an NFL player is always in the background.
“I think about it almost every day, and it’s hard not to,” he acknowledged. “It is what it is.”
NEW YORK: Keita Bates-Diop had 17 points and 12 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season, leading No. 22 Ohio State over Minnesota 67-49 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday for its seventh consecutive win.
Ohio State’s first-year coach Chris Holtmann is the third Big Ten coach to win his first eight conference games. Sam Barry won 11 in a row for Iowa in 1923 and Walter Meanwell holds the record with 12 for Wisconsin in 1912.
The Buckeyes (17-4, 8-0 Big Ten) used a 24-2 burst to overcome a 10-point deficit midway through the first half. They stayed in control, and went on to match last season’s win total — with 10 regular season game remaining — to remain in a first-place tie with No. 3 Purdue (19-2, 8-0).
Minnesota was held to just six field goals (28.6 percent) in the second half with 10 turnovers.
Kaleb Wesson added 15 points and eight rebounds for Ohio State. Bates-Diop reached 1,000 career points, with his fourth point against Minnesota, to become the 55th Buckeye to do so. Jae’Sean Tate had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists and trails Brent Darby (1,368) by 14 points for the 26th spot on the school’s scoring list.
The Buckeyes have won 12 of their last 13, with a neutral-site loss to then-No. 5 North Carolina.
Amir Coffey, who missed five games because of a shoulder injury, scored 11 points in 35 minutes for the Golden Gophers (14-8, 3-6). Jordan Murphy had 13 points and Dupree McBrayer, a Queens native playing for the first time in the Garden, added 10 points. Minnesota turned it over 15 times and Ohio State scored 22 points off of them for a 22-3 edge in the category.
Ohio State: Bates-Diop, who leads the Big Ten in scoring at 19.8 points per game, had his third career and second consecutive Big Ten player of the week on Monday after averaging 23 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 33 minutes last week. He had scored 20-plus in four consecutive games before netting just 10 points Wednesday at Northwestern on 4-of-12 shooting. … Bates-Diop was just 7-of-21 from the field, including 0-of-6 from distance, against the Golden Gophers.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers are missing two of their best players; injured guard Amir Coffey (shoulder), who missed his fifth straight game, and senior center Reggie Lynch, who’s been suspended since Jan. 5. … The Gophers have lost five of their last six — with the last three games coming in a six-day span.
Minnesota: Host Northwestern on Tuesday.
Ohio State: Host Nebraska on Monday.
ROSEMONT, Ill.: Chris Holtmann became the first coach in 95 years to win his first seven Big Ten games as No. 22 Ohio State defeated Northwestern 71-65 on Wednesday night.
C.J. Jackson had 12 points, eight assists and three steals, Micah Potter scored 13 points off the bench, Jae’Sean Tate added 12 and Keita Bates-Diop had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes (16-4, 7-0), who won their sixth in a row overall.
Holtmann is the third Big Ten coach to win his first seven conference games, joining Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (1911-12) and Iowa’s Sam Barry (1922-23). Holtmann replaced Thad Matta, the program’s all-time wins leader, this season.
Vic Law scored 14 points and Scottie Lindsey added 13 for Northwestern (11-9, 2-5) as the Wildcats suffered their second consecutive double-digit loss.
Picked to finish 11th in the Big Ten in a preseason media poll, the Buckeyes have been the story of the conference so far this season.
Coming off successive routs of then-No. 1 Michigan State, Maryland and Rutgers, Ohio State led Northwestern by as many as 15 in the second half before holding off a late Wildcats charge.
Northwestern got within three at 68-65 on a 3-pointer by Lindsey with 43 seconds left, but Jackson sealed the the victory from the foul line.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes won on the road without a big game from Bates-Diop. The reigning two-time Big Ten Player of the Week, Bates-Diop entered the game leading the Big Ten in scoring (20.3) and was third in rebounding (8.8).
Northwestern: With four starters back from the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Wildcats have fallen far short of expectations and are going to have turn things around in a hurry to make a case for another invitation to the dance.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Minnesota on Saturday.
Northwestern: The Wildcats host Penn State on Saturday.
CLEVELAND: Cy Young winner Corey Kluber was named the Professional Athlete of the Year and the Indians’ 22-game winning streak took home the title of Best Moment in Cleveland Sports at the 2017 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on Wednesday night at the Renaissance Cleveland hotel.
The Indians’ winning streak was comprised of arguably the greatest 22-game stretch in major-league history. It is the longest winning streak in AL history and the second-longest in major-league history, bested by only the 26-game streak put together by the 1916 New York Giants.
The Indians in those 22 games had a run differential of plus-105 and won by an average of 4.77 runs per game. They also trailed for only eight out of a possible 199 innings.
Indians manager Terry Francona, always looking to remain in the moment, said he didn’t enjoy it as much at the time as he does now that things have slowed down.
“I honestly didn’t realize at the time what it meant to people,” Francona said. “When I got back to Tucson this winter, more people were like, ‘Wow, it was amazing. I stopped what I was doing when you guys got to like 15.’ It was pretty cool to hear that, because when you’re living it, you heard me every day, it was like, ‘We’re going to turn the page and move on.’ And we’d do that pretty good. So, I don’t know that I took the time to maybe enjoy it as much as I should have. When you look back on it, it’s pretty special.”
While accepting the award for Best Moment, Francona also made a promise that the Indians will be looking to get back to work once spring training begins next month.
“After the sting of losing to the Yankees, in 28 days, I guarantee you we’re coming back with a vengeance,” he said, referring to the start of spring training.
Kluber in 2017 won his second Cy Young Award after putting together a blistering four-month stretch once he came off the disabled list on June 1. While managing a back issue all year, Kluber finished with an 18-4 record and led the American League with a 2.25 ERA and 0.869 WHIP to go with an 11.7 K/9 rate.
Catcher Roberto Perez was in Cleveland to accept the award on behalf of Kluber, who sent in a video message.
“I’d like to say thank you and how honored I am to be selected Cleveland’s 2017 top professional athlete,” Kluber said. “There’s so many great athletes around the city, not just in the Indians clubhouse, but the other teams as well. So, I think this is a huge honor for me, personally.
“I’d like to thank Roberto for accepting this award on my behalf tonight. Without the leadership and guidance of our catchers — both Roberto and Yan [Gomes] — I wouldn’t be in the position to receive this award. Also, I’d like to thank the rest of my teammates who supported me throughout the entire season.”
Kluber dealt with a callus issue on opening day and then a back issue for a month before hitting the disabled list. Once he returned, he rediscovered the type of dominant form which had already won him the 2014 Cy Young Award.
“That was very impressive,” Perez said of Kluber’s performance after June 1. “You don’t see a guy come off an injury and deal like that. He works hard to be the best pitcher. As a catcher, I expect a lot of big things from Kluber. The way he prepares, he’s so professional and his work ethic [is impressive] and he deserves it.”
Big honor for Big Z
Former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was presented with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award, given to a person who, through their personal dedication and achievements, has advanced Cleveland sports.
“I’m very happy and humbled to receive this award,” he said. “I’m very thankful to the whole city of Cleveland for giving me and my family these opportunities and support over the years.”
Ilgauskas spent 12 of his 13 professional seasons with the Cavs, averaging 13.8 points and 7.7 rebound per game. He retired as the Cavaliers franchise leader in total rebounds (5,904), offensive rebounds (2,336), blocks (1,269) and games (771).
LeBron James spoke on Wednesday about the adversity Ilgauskas overcame after multiple foot surgeries early in his carer.
“What he had to go through when he first started his NBA career with the foot injuries he had to continue to go through and the foot surgeries he had to go through, being that size, at some point thinking to himself he’d never be able to play a game, to see him get all the way back to him becoming an All-Star while I was here, being the impact player he was, he had a heck of a chemistry with our pick and pop,” James said. “Multi-talented guy but even greater person to be around every day. Came to work every day, showed up every day and he gave everything he could to this franchise and the Heat franchise that he played for a year.”
Wadsworth senior quarterback and wrestler Joey Baughman was named the 2017 Male High School Athlete of the Year. Baughman threw for 3,079 yards, rushed for 1,523 yards and scored a combined 20 touchdowns en route to leading the Grizzlies to a Suburban League title. He is also a two-time Division I state runner-up in wrestling.
“It definitely ranks way at the top,” Baughman said of the award. “There’s tons of great athletes in Northeast Ohio, and it’s an honor to be selected as the best.”
The award was presented by Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas and former quarterback Bernie Kosar.
“It was really crazy. I looked up to those guys,” Baughman said. “I loved watching them play. I wasn’t around really when Bernie played, but I’ve seen some clips and he’s amazing. So it’s pretty crazy for me to be in their company.”
Top Male Collegiate Athlete
Former Kent State track-and-field star Reggie Jagers III was named the 2017 Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year.
Jagers III during his senior year earned two All-America honors and was named the Most Outstanding Field Performer at the Mid-American Conference Championships. He was the national runner-up in the discus event at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, where he earned First Team All-America honors.
Jagers III, a five-time All-American, also secured a gold medal for Team USA at the World University Games. He owns KSU’s discus record with a toss of 197 feet, five inches.
PISCATAWAY, N.J.: Ohio State opened up the season without much expectation. So, making the Top 25 and leading the Big Ten surely wasn’t anticipated.
Now, when the new weekly rankings come out, the Buckeyes will likely have both.
“We had talked about it a little bit,” first-year coach Chris Holtmann said. “We talked about it a little bit when we beat [No. 4] Michigan State because I think that alerted people.”
Keita Bates-Diop scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds and Ohio State beat Rutgers 68-46 to remain undefeated in Big Ten play this season and tied atop the conference standings.
Ohio State (15-4, 6-0) built up a 30-point lead after Kam Williams converted on a 4-point play with 13:47 remaining to make it 48-18.
Kaleb Wesson had 10 points and nine rebounds and Williams finished with 11 points for Ohio State
Rutgers led 9-8 after Eugene Omoruyi made a layup at the 10:46 mark. Ohio State closed the half on a 19-6 run to take the 28-15 lead into half.
Rutgers was led by guards Geo Baker (14 points) and Corey Sanders (13 points).
However, Rutgers was without its third guard and sixth man, Mike William. The senior captain was sidelined after injuring his leg in practice on Saturday. He sat the game out with his right foot wrapped.
So while Rutgers’ season could be at a crossroads, Ohio State’s could continue to surprise.
“I keep coming back to the fact that we’ve only played one third of the Big Ten right now, so there’s a lot left to be played,” Holtmann said. “But we will talk about the fact that hey, we’re going to have some people — we’re going to have to play with a different edge. Home, road, doesn’t matter. We’ll see if we’re good enough to manage that.”
COLUMBUS: Keita Bates-Diop was 6-for-8 from beyond the 3-point line and totaled 26 points in leading Ohio State to a 91-69 rout of Maryland on Thursday night.
C.J. Jackson scored 14 and Jae-Sean Tate added 13 to power the surprising Buckeyes, who were coming off a huge upset of then-No. 1 Michigan State on Sunday.
Ohio State (14-4, 5-0 Big Ten) battled back from a seven-point deficit in the first half, took a 24-22 lead with a Tate dunk with 7:25 left in the half and cruised from there, leading by as many as 28 points in the second half.
Bates-Diop continued his torrid streak after putting up 27 points against Iowa on Jan. 4, and a 32-point performance against Michigan State that earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
Ohio State has won four in a row and nine of the last 10.
Anthony Cekovsky at 7-foot-1 used took his height advantage inside to lead the Terrapins with 18 points.
Maryland has lost its two lead power forwards and a key reserve — accounting for about 19 points per game — to season-ending injuries in the past two weeks.
The Buckeyes led 44-32 at the half on the strength of a 22-2 run that included a trio of 3-pointers from Andrew Dakich and a pair from Bates-Diop.
Ohio State: Bates-Diop is having a breakout season and getting lots of help from talented players around him.
Maryland: Had won eight of the last nine entering the game but caught Ohio State on a hot streak. The Terps really missed their three forwards who are out with injuries.
Ohio State: At Rutgers on Sunday night.
Maryland: At Michigan on Monday night.
Parris Campbell will be back for another season with the Ohio State football team.
The former St. Vincent-St. Mary star announced on Twitter that he would be back for his senior season.
In 2018 the wide receiver caught 40 passes for 584 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 10 times for 132 yards.
Ohio State has already lost juniors Jerome Baker, Sam Hubbard and Denzel Ward to the 2018 NFL Draft.
COLUMBUS: Keita Bates-Diop scored a career-high 32 points, and Ohio State stunned No. 1 Michigan State 80-64 on Sunday.
The overachieving Buckeyes put together an electrifying 12-0 run to finish the first half and kept their foot on the gas to give first-year coach Chris Holtmann a signature win.
Ohio State (13-4, 4-0 Big Ten) won for its third in a row in taking down the best team it is likely to see this season. The mistake-prone Spartans (15-2, 3-1) lost for the first time in the last 15 games, dating back to a seven-point loss to then-No. 1 Duke on Nov. 14.
The Spartans, who came in leading the nation with a 53.3 field-goal percentage, shot just 39 percent for the game and committed a dozen turnovers. Joshua Langford and Miles Bridges each scored 17 points.
Bates-Diop hit 12-of-21 attempts from the floor, including 2-of-4 from the 3-point line. His previous career high was 27 points against Iowa three days ago.
C.J. Jackson had 14 points for Ohio State, and Jae’Sean Tate added 13.
With the exception of Bates-Diop, neither team shot particularly well in the first half.
Kam Williams opened up the second half with a slam, and the Buckeyes never trailed again. Michigan State pulled to within 14 points with 6:25 left but couldn’t get closer.
Fans streamed onto the court afterward to celebrate the win with players.
Ohio State last beat the No. 1 team in the country in 2007, when the then-No. 2 Buckeyes beat Wisconsin 49-48.
Michigan State: The discombobulated Spartans let the game slip away at the end of the first half and couldn’t adjust in the second.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes made the most of their momentum and played solid defense to shock the nation’s top team.
Ohio State: Hosts Maryland on Thursday.
Michigan State: Hosts Rutgers on Wednesday.
IOWA CITY, Iowa: The Buckeyes look like they might finally be ready to give top-ranked Michigan State a go on Sunday.
Keita Bates-Diop scored 27 points with 13 rebounds, Jae’Sean Tate had 18 points and Ohio State cruised past Iowa 92-81 on Thursday night, its seventh win in its last eight games.
Kam Williams scored 13 points for the surging Buckeyes (12-4, 3-0 Big Ten), who also notched their sixth road win in their last eight tries at Iowa.
Next up are the Spartans — the favorites to yet again win the league.
“They’re a legitimate national championship contender. We’re a program that is trying to find our way here a little bit,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said about hosting the Spartans this weekend in arguably the biggest game of the Big Ten’s young season. “We have not been through something like that as a group, with a team of that caliber coming into our place.”
Ohio State looked like a big-time Big Ten team in jumping all over the Hawkeyes (9-8, 0-4) at the outset, grabbing a 17-point lead late in the first half.
Iowa went on a 12-0 run to get within five early in the second half, but the Buckeyes’ lead was back up to 15 after a 10-0 run keyed by Bates-Diop.
“I give our older guys a lot of credit for being able to stem the tide,” Holtmann said. “Our bench was really important for us as well.”
Tyler Cook scored 21 points with nine boards and Jordan Bohannon had 15 points with 10 assists to lead Iowa, which has dropped two in a row.
“It’s problematic at both ends,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
The big picture
Ohio State: The Buckeyes took advantage of Iowa’s poor defense to get into a rhythm on offense early on and build an edge the woeful Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome. Micah Potter had six points and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench, and Andrew Dakich had six assists in a reserve role.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes let their opponent get off to a hot start for the second game in a row, as Ohio State jumped ahead by 10 less than eight minutes in. Iowa’s defense has been brutal in its last two games, a sign of a young team but also a sign that the bottom might soon be falling out for this season — if it hasn’t already. Iowa is 0-4 in the league, and three of those games were at home.
Iowa freshman Luka Garza, who was re-inserted into the starting lineup, finished with 15 points and six rebounds. … Ohio State eventually cooled off from 3-point range, finishing 7-of-20. … Bates-Diop was 10-of-17 from the floor. … C.J. Jackson had 12 for Ohio State.
He said it
“We’ve got some guys that are struggling right now. And we are young. But we have enough experience, in my opinion, to be playing better than we’re playing,” Fran McCaffery said. “I don’t want to use that as an excuse, because those sophomores played a lot last year.”
The Buckeyes host the Spartans on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes play at Maryland on Sunday in first of three consecutive road games.