Ohio State men’s basketball’s upset win against No. 7 Maryland came at a cost.
With 4:29 remaining in the first half, junior forward Kyle Young went down with a high right ankle sprain that sidelined him for the rest of Sunday’s game. Young returned to the bench late in the second half with a walking boot on.
The ankle is just the latest in a series of injuries Young has dealt with in the past two seasons.
“He’s had really bad luck,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said. “I just feel terrible for him.”
Young has been a key player for the Buckeyes this season, starting every game he’s played. He averages 7.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and shoots a team-best 59 percent from the field in 24 contests.
But Young’s impact transcends the box score. He is known as a scrappy, high-effort player who gives his all on the court, and that reputation goes beyond Columbus, Ohio.
“He’s just active. He’s a hard-nosed, tough dude and he’s about winning,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said after a 68-52 loss to Ohio State Feb. 15. “You can’t have enough guys like Kyle Young on your team.”
The Purdue game was one in which Young’s contributions were evident in the postgame stat column.
Young dropped a career-high 16 points, connecting on each of his six 2-point field goals just five weeks after returning from an appendectomy.
It was Young’s ninth double-digit scoring performance of the year –– five more than he had a season ago.
“He’s a terrific player and energy giver to us,” Holtmann said.
This is the second time Young has injured his right leg during his time at Ohio State. He suffered a stress fracture after a hard fall against Maryland during his sophomore season, which sidelined him for four games and bothered him for the back half of the year.
Young’s practice time has been limited because of the wear and tear on his legs, and he’s worn tape on both of them for the past several contests. Holtmann said that when his starting power forward went down Sunday, his first concern was that he had reaggravated the stress fracture.
During his absence a year ago, the Buckeyes snapped a four-game losing streak and turned in a 2-2 record.
They had less luck following Young’s appendectomy this year, when the Buckeyes went 0-2 with losses to Wisconsin and Maryland while Young regained his strength.
In those games, the Buckeyes threw sophomore guard Duane Washington and freshman guard D.J. Carton into the starting lineup, sacrificing much-needed size in the rotation.
Outside of size, the Buckeyes will lose Young’s steady presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.
Holtmann has typically turned to senior forward and fellow starter Andre Wesson to fill this void when Young has missed time in the past.
“The value of a guy like Andre Wesson is that you can slide him around and he can guard other positions,” Holtmann said. “Having guys like that is really important.”
Freshman forward E.J. Liddell stepped up while Young sat in his boot against Maryland, attacking the offensive glass with aggression. He was the only Buckeye to play off the bench in the second half, when he snagged three offensive rebounds.
Liddell –– who scored a season-high 17 points against Iowa this past week –– has played a key bench role for the Buckeyes this season, averaging 15.8 minutes per game. His hustle and activity on both ends of the court drew praise from both Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon and Holtmann.
“Liddell was great today,” Turgeon said. “He was so active.”
Holtmann said Young’s injury may serve as a way for Liddell’s development to continue.
“It’s really critical that he keeps growing and getting better,” Holtmann said. “His offensive rebounding stemmed some momentum in this game.”
With no timetable on Young’s return, Ohio State may be without its key energy man for the final four games of the season as it tries to improve its seeding in the Big Ten Tournament.