For only the second time this season, Ohio State is coming off a loss.
This time, it is an 86-77 defeat to No. 6 Michigan State after being outscored by the Spartans 50-34 in the second half.
In the nearly one-and-a-half seasons under head coach Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes have lost consecutive games twice, and never have lost more than two in a row.
Sophomore forward Kyle Young said that is because of the amount of preparation put into every game individually.
“After the game, we’re right back to preparing,” Young said. “We don’t look ahead … It’s just staying focused on the next game and just continuing to get better.”
To avoid losing two straight games for the third time in the Holtmann era, Ohio State has to go through Rutgers.
No. 16 Ohio State (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.9 apg
G — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 9.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg
G — Keyshawn Woods — Redshirt senior, 7.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.4 apg
F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 7.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.7 apg
F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 17.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.5 apg
Rutgers (7-6, 0-3 Big Ten)
G — Geo Baker — Sophomore, 13.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.8 apg
G — Montez Mathis — Freshman, 5.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.9 apg
G — Peter Kiss — Redshirt sophomore, 8.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.5 apg
F — Eugene Omoruyi — Junior, 15.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.9 apg
C — Shaquille Doorson — Redshirt senior, 4.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.3 apg
Junior forward Eugene Omoruyi leads the Scarlet Knights with 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, shooting 47 percent from the field.
Omoruyi also leads his team with 44 personal fouls, 16 more than any other player on his team and one fewer than sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson, who leads the Buckeyes with 45.
Sophomore guard Geo Baker is the other primary scorer, and is the floor general for Rutgers, scoring 13.1 points per game with a team-high 4.8 assists per game.
Though Baker has struggled to shoot the ball, making only 35.9 percent of his attempts this season, Holtmann still sees him as a major threat, along with Omoruyi.
“Omoruyi is a mismatch issue, and Geo Baker as a sophomore, he was really good last year for them,” Holtmann said. “He’s really come into his own as a guy on the ball that presents a lot of problems because of his ability to make shots and drive it and attack and get others involved.”
The Scarlet Knights have lost five of their past seven games after starting the season 5-1, and rank No. 115 on KenPom.
But Rutgers has managed to stay close against tough opponents, losing by 11 to Michigan State and five to Wisconsin.
Much of that comes from the defense, which is tied for No. 29 with 63 points per game allowed. The Scarlet Knights also rebound well, averaging 5.7 more rebounds than their opponents, No. 49 in the NCAA.
“They’re big, they’re extremely physical, they’re very tough,” Holtmann said. “I think our guys, after having watched them play Michigan State, have a great appreciation for how physical they are, so looking forward to see how we respond to our loss the other day, and excited about another road challenge.”
No. 16 Ohio State travels to take on Rutgers on the road in Piscataway, New Jersey, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.