Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann had a closeup view of Texas Tech and was impressed with how the Red Raiders shut down Louisville.
The Buckeyes (4-1) were awaiting their game against Cincinnati at the Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii, on Tuesday but couldn’t take the floor until No. 21 Texas Tech (4-1) finished off a dominating 70-38 victory, limiting the Cardinals to their lowest scoring output since March 7, 1981.
The Buckeyes then went out and defeated Cincinnati 81-53 to set up the fifth-place game against the Red Raiders on Wednesday.
“We’re going to see a defense unlike anything we’ve ever seen, we’ve ever played,” Holtmann said on the Ohio State postgame radio broadcast. “In my six years here, we haven’t played a defense like this in terms of their ability to be on one side of the ball rotation, collapsing on the ball.
“It is a leap in every way. We’re going to have to deal with some frustration in some difficult places and some tough moments in the game.”
Louisville shot 11 of 49 from the floor (22.4 percent) and 3 of 18 (16.7 percent) from 3-point range while committing 18 turnovers.
“That’s just a testimony to our defense,” Texas Tech forward Kevin Obanor said. “I’m just proud of the guys, and we got to look forward to the one that we got (Wednesday).”
Louisville trailed 15-11 before the Red Raiders clamped down and went on a 17-2 run to close the first half with a 32-13 lead. Texas Tech then scored the first 13 points of the second half to put the game away quickly.
Red Raiders forward Robert Jennings said the team buys into the defense-first philosophy of coach Mark Adams.
“Come and play hard every day. We’re going to dive on the floor. We’re going to play hard,” Jennings said. “We’re going to make teams feel uncomfortable. We’re going to be the team that people don’t want to play. I feel like we did that today and we came out with a win.”
Holtmann believes an 88-77 loss to a physical No. 17 San Diego State team on Monday to open the tournament, plus the matchup against Texas Tech, will harden his squad for the rigors of the Big Ten.
“We’re going to have three games here and I think at the end of the year we’ll look back and we will have played two of the top 10 defenses in the country,” Holtmann said.
The Buckeyes are led by Zed Key, who had 19 points and eight rebounds vs. Cincinnati to barely miss his fourth double-double of the young season. A pair of freshmen, Brice Sensabaugh and Bruce Thornton, each had 17 points.
Thornton will be tasked with running the offense against the Red Raiders.
“Bruce has been really, really solid in a lot of ways,” Holtmann said. “He’s really sure with the ball … He’s just a mature kid. There’s no question we’ve had to go through some struggles, but he’s been really good these two days. He’s got a poise about him.”
–Field Level Media