Sports Today: Is Ohio State basketball back?


Who would have thought we would be leading the day after a busy January sports weekend with Ohio State basketball? 

Chris Holtmann might have an idea what he’s doing in Columbus. 

The Buckeyes crushed Michigan State from start to finish Sunday, an 80-64 game that was not a coronation but at least a hint of things to come — especially if Holtmann can sign more players like Keita Bates-Diop in the future. 

KBD’s absence due to injury last season definitely did Thad Matta no favors, and now in his last go-round he’s showing why he was a coveted recruit five years ago. 

Holtmann has done a great job building his attack around Bates-Diop, which allows Jae’Sean Tate to be more of a complementary player. That’s a role that better suits him. 

And, of course, C.J. Jackson is giving Ohio State the type of point guard play it has desperately needed since D’Angelo Russell skipped town. 

Holtmann needs to recruit like a young Matta to turn Ohio State basketball back into a Big Ten and national championship contender, but it is nice to see a team play hard and play together like this one is right now. 

Matta had his moment like this 13 years ago when Matt Sylvester stunned No. 1 Illinois (trying to close out an undefeated regular season) with a go-ahead three-pointer in the final seconds. 

Now comes Holtmann, who held a two-hour party at Value City Arena on Sunday — perhaps the first of many? 

 

The Ohio State women’s basketball team also picked up a good win Sunday, going to Michigan and beating the 22nd-ranked Wolverines in overtime. 

Kelsey Mitchell scored 37 points for the 10th-ranked Buckeyes, who were out of sync offensively for much of the afternoon but played better defense than was their habit last season. 

Mitchell’s next basket will put her in the 3,000-point club, and with two assists Sunday she tied Chaminade Julienne legend Brandie Hoskins for sixth on OSU’s all-time list… 

Meanwhile, Dayton suffered a pretty bad loss to a short-handed Massachusetts team Saturday at UD Arena. 

More worrisome that this happened was that it happened again. 

Anthony Grant’s team just can’t seem to put it together with any consistency, and I think we’re done allowing for the youth excuse. 

‘ARCH’: Grant implies Flyers need heads examined

That’s not to say the whole era is doomed or anything, but it’s time for these guys to suck it up and show up ready to go for 40 minutes every night — especially at home. 

I still like the potential of this team, but it’s starting to look like this transition is going to be more painful than it appeared, oh, late last week. Then again, maybe it will be as bad as it looked, well, earlier last week… 

There was better news for the Flyer women’s basketball team, a 65-59 winner at St. Joseph’s on Sunday afternoon. 

Jenna Burdette had 20 points and Jayla Scaife added 10 for UD, which improved to 3-0 in the A-10… 

  

Then there’s Wright State. 

The Raiders came home from the state of Michigan two wins richer after beating Detroit Mercy on Friday night and outlasting Oakland on Sunday afternoon

»RELATED: Benzinger leads Raiders past Detroit

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Scott Nagy’s team has a lot to like now with point guard Cole Gentry, sharp-shooter Grant Benzinger and the inside presence of Louden Love. 

The Raiders have won five in a row, and they are 4-0 in Horizon League play. 

They’re tied for the top of the standings with Northern Kentucky — the next team on the docket. 

The Norse play host to the Raiders on Thursday night… 

Hoops is hot on the high school scene, too! 

Xenia’s Samari Curtis became the third player in the Miami Valley to score at least 50 points in a game this season, though the Buccaneers lost 90-80 at Tippecanoe. 

His scoring outburst came two weeks after Triad senior Hadley LeVan scored 51 points in a loss to West Jefferson. That was topped when Fairmont senior Jack Hendricks put 52 points on Indianapolis Washington on Dec. 30. His 14 three-pointers is tied for second most in state history.

Curtis wasn’t done after Friday night. The standout junior poured in 37 more as Xenia downed La Salle 75-56 on Saturday night… 

As for football this weekend, well, it was interesting I guess. That’s better than no football, right? 

Marcus Mariota turned in the highlight of the weekend when he threw a touchdown pass to himself during a comeback win for the Titans at Kansas City. 

Jacksonville also won in the AFC, setting up a rematch with the Steelers in the divisional round. 

The Jaguars, who might be better off in the single wing than continuing whatever they were doing Sunday, crushed Pittsburgh in the regular season, but that was probably an aberration. 

Think Ben Roethlisberger is going to throw another five interceptions this time around? 

While the basketball Buckeyes romped, Sunday was a big day for Ohio State football, too. 

The Saints got notable performances from Ted Ginn Jr., Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore and Vonn Bell as they beat the Panthers (with Andrew Norwell and Northmont grad Kurt Coleman)… 

The Bengals, meanwhile, may be close to signing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin

I don’t know a lot about him yet, but on paper it looks like his Detroit defenses were good when he had good players and got worse along with the personnel. 

That would make him a great fit for Cincinnati, where they already know how that goes on the offensive side… 

As for tonight? 

I’m picking Georgia in the national championship game. 

Alabama is a five-point favorite, but I think the Crimson Tide fired most of their bullets in a revenge win over Clemson last weekend. 

Nick Saban’s team rarely loses to power offenses, though, I think it’s been overlooked how “blah” his offense is this season

If freshman quarterback Jake Fromm plays a solid game for Georgia, the Bulldogs should be able to celebrate in front of that (almost) hometown crowd Monday night. 


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