Embed Code Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Jan. 18, 2018), tensions between players and referees across the NBA remain high as a slew of high-profile calls and ejections are making headlines. Neil, Chris and Kyle take a look at the data to figure out if this year is one for the record books or just a statistical anomaly. Plus, we get reactions to the news that Kawhi Leonard will be out indefinitely, and we speculate on what it might mean for the Spurs’ Western Conference chances. Next, we’re joined by The Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, who reports on the Washington Wizards, to take a look at the team, which is not quite as good as it thinks it is. Plus, a small-sample-size segment on the Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams. Here are links to what was discussed this week:Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.After Kawhi Leonard missed the first 27 games of the season with a quad injury, the Spurs announced Wednesday that the forward will be out indefinitely.For more of Candace Buckner’s insights, you can read her in The Washington Post or follow her on Twitter.The Washington Post’s Jerry Brewer writes that in an era of progress, good is no longer enough for the Wizards. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner
FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Sept. 6, 2016), we take a look at some of the storylines surrounding quarterbacks in the run-up to this year’s NFL season. Sharon Katz also joins the show to break down a wacky first weekend of college football and whether Houston is destined for the playoffs after a big win in Week 1. Finally, Blythe Terrell, an editor at FiveThirtyEight, returns to the show to find out which NFL team should be her new favorite, according to the numbers. Plus, a significant digit on how baseball teams’ fortunes would change if they never traded their original players.Hot Takedown also has a spin-off podcast about the U.S. Open happening right now. It’s called Baseline, and it can be found here. The latest episode features 18-time major champion, Chris Evert.Links to what we discuss:Sharon Katz breaks down the college football conference power rankings.Heather Dinich writes that Houston’s win over Oklahoma says a lot about its playoff chances this year.Neil Paine says Teddy Bridgewater’s injury puts the Minnesota Vikings in big trouble.The Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback, Trevor Siemian, may be someone who’s never thrown a pass in an NFL game, but at least he’s not Peyton Manning.You can find FiveThirtyEight’s Elo predictions for the NFL season on the site later this week.In the meantime, here are the latest Super Bowl odds according to Vegas.Significant Digit: 15. That’s how many fewer wins the Washington Nationals would have this season if they only played players they originally drafted. Five of those new wins come from Daniel Murphy’s contributions. Murphy was signed as a free agent last offseason.
OSU defensive ends junior Jalyn Holmes (11), redshirt junior Tyquan Lewis (59) and freshman Nick Bosa (97) celebrate after a play in the second half of the Buckeyes game against the Badgers on Oct. 15. The Buckeyes won 30-23 in overtime. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorOhio State redshirt freshman Nick Bosa, redshirt sophomore Sam Hubbard, junior Jalyn Holmes and redshirt junior Tyquan Lewis were all on the field for the final play of OSU’s 30-23 overtime victory at No. 8 Wisconsin. The four defensive ends collectively known as the Rushmen looked at each other and decided, as a unit, the game was on them.At the snap of the ball, Lewis, Holmes and Bosa bull-rushed Wisconsin redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook and sacked him to end the game before he had a second to get rid of the ball. Lewis was credited with the sack.Hubbard said the message from defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been very clear. The Rushmen mantra is “R2X,” meaning rush to the “X,” with “X” being the quarterback. Johnson even has the three-letter adage in his Twitter handle.“You can see on that last play all four of us were at the ‘X’ like we’re supposed to be. That’s what we do,” Hubbard said on Monday.Long before overtime was in the realm of possibility, the Buckeyes found themselves down 16-6 at half and had allowed 313 yards in the first half, including 170 on the ground, on defense. Both surpassed OSU’s average per game. Coach Urban Meyer came into the locker room and said he was looking to tear into his players. However, the score could have been much worse. The Rushmen kept the score tight early in the game, with multiple third-down stops earlier in the game for OSU.On the first drive of the game, Bosa sacked Hornibrook to halt the drive at the OSU 21-yard line and forced a field goal. In the second quarter, after a 28-yard run by Wisconsin redshirt junior Jazz Peavy that put the Badgers at midfield, Hubbard sacked Hornibrook to end the drive. Then, right before the half, when the Badgers had first-and-goal from the five yard line, the Rushmen got into the backfield, forcing errant throws from Hornibrook and stopped the Wisconsin offense from leading by more than just 16-6 at halftime.“It’s a party to the quarterback,” Holmes said. “It’s a race, whoever gets there first. We just celebrate when we get there. We just get to show our talent and speed. We can play anywhere on that defensive line.”The Rushmen are a large reason as to why OSU ranks first in the country in red zone defense at 62.5 percent. When the OSU defense can suppress chunk plays and get its opponent to third or fourth down, the four men across from the ball often deliver to get redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett and the offense back on the field.Holmes said coach Johnson deserves much of the credit for the success of the unit. He said the sky is the limit for the group.“We pride ourselves on not letting them score so we just put it all out there and we play together as a unit,” Holmes said.Meyer said during Monday’s media availability that attitude isn’t adjusted by any speech any of the coaches make, whether it be at halftime, before or during a game. He said that the units on the team build that trust in the offseason, and no group trusts one another more than the Rushmen.“The best I’ve heard is when Larry Johnson and his guys get together. That’s a brotherhood. That’s why they play hard now,” he said. “That’s not something that’s said at halftime. It’s something that’s been in progress really since you walk foot on campus.”Holmes, Lewis and Hubbard have spent at least three years in the program, but Bosa has been the player that has been a catalyst for the Rushmen. Only a year removed from surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament, Bosa has been moving along slowly under the regimen of Johnson to ensure no further injury. The freshman from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has primarily been on the field for pass-rushing purposes, giving the interior defensive linemen the chance to stop the run and Bosa the opportunity to stay fresh; something that paid off in the end for he and the Buckeyes.“Coach J told us that it was going to have to be a heart win,” Bosa said after the game. “That’s what he preached all week and we pulled it from our heart and came through.”Each of the four Rushmen registered a sack against Wisconsin, marking a team-high four sacks in a game this season for the Silver Bullets. Making it more impressive, each sack came at a time of need for OSU. The Rushmen have been a notably dominant force all season, but when the lights were the brightest, they stole the show.“As we have more success, the brotherhood is going to be stronger and stronger … This does nothing but help us,” co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said after the game. “I don’t know if there’s a guy out there that thought they played their best game they could’ve, but they know they fought together, climbed together and it makes them realize they need one another.”
Ohio State’s Luke Fickell named head coach of the University of Cincinnati. Credit: Courtesy of University of Cincinnati AthleticsOhio State co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell has agreed to a six-year contract to become the University of Cincinnati’s head football coach. The university announced the hire on Saturday afternoon, scheduling a press conference for 3:15 p.m. The contract details will be released following approval by the UC Board of Trustees.The press release said that Fickell will remain with OSU throughout the playoffs.Fickell has been the head of the OSU defense since 2005, briefly serving as interim head coach in 2011 before returning to defensive coordinator.Fickell has been with the OSU program since the 2002-2003 season.This season, Fickell has shared the defensive coordinator duties with Greg Schiano. The two have led a defense that ranks fourth in total defense leads the country with seven interceptions for touchdowns and ranks fourth with 19 interceptions.Since Fickell started coaching the linebacker unit in 2004, OSU has produced three different first-team All-American players and 12 NFL draft picks, not including the current linebackers at OSU.Fickell played for OSU from 1992 to 1996, where he started four seasons at nose guard and started in a school record 50 consecutive games.Fickell’s only head coaching experience prior to Cincinnati has been his interim position with OSU in 2011, where he went 6-7 with the Buckeyes.He will take over a Bearcats’ team that went 4-8 in 2016 before former coach Tommy Tuberville left the program.
It’s rare for an athlete to brush off a potentially career-ending injury as if it’s nothing.But after learning that a tear in his shoulder could cut his final season short, Mark Titus wasn’t the one who was distressed.“My mom’s actually more disappointed than I am,” said Titus, a sarcastic senior on the Ohio State men’s basketball team. “When the doctors told her I was done, she started crying and she started talking about me playing basketball like it was me walking or something. She was like, ‘So wait, he’s never going to play basketball again?’ like the shocking revelation or whatever. She’s taking it much harder than I am, so it makes it easier on me I guess. She can take all the pain.”Titus first injured his shoulder during practice earlier in the season.When reaching in to swipe a pass intended for Dallas Lauderdale, Titus’ shoulder became tangled with the 6-foot-8-inch center. He eventually lost feeling in his shoulder, he said.Still, being the relentless warrior he says he is, Titus fought through the intolerable pain, delaying surgery so he could help his team on the court. However, the blogging benchwarmer received further damage to the shoulder when hustling for a loose ball in OSU’s win over the Wildcats.“Against Northwestern, in the one minute that I played, I went to reach for a loose ball and someone grabbed my arm again and pulled it out of the socket and it popped back in,” Titus said. “So, we took a look at it and it’s pretty bad.”Best known for his off-the-court gimmicks and his blog, clubtrillion.com, which has attracted more than 2 million visitors, Titus seems more sardonic than ever now that his final season at OSU has been derailed by injury. Although, “derailed” isn’t exactly how Titus describes it.“It’s kind of cool. We usually lift before practice and I don’t have to show up for the lift, so I can sleep in for an extra half hour or 45 minutes,” Titus said. “I can kind of do whatever I want during practice. If I just want to go downstairs and look at my phone for a little bit and come back up, I can.”Titus started Club Trillion and the “Trillion Man March” as a way to applaud the limited statistics that he and fellow senior walk-on Danny Peters amass in their brief playing time. A “trillion” is derived from the statistical showing in a box score when a player plays one minute, but accumulates no other statistics: zero points, rebounds, assists, shot attempts, free throws, steals, turnovers or blocks.More detrimental to Titus than the time lost on the court is the shortage of ideas to write about on his blog now that a “trillion” is unattainable.“It is weird, because I can’t do anything, really,” Titus said. “And it’s not just in the game, that I can’t get a ‘trillion,’ but I don’t even practice anymore. I don’t do anything. I just sit up here and just kind of watch. I get bored, really. I’m struggling to find stuff to write about because I’m not really as plugged in as I used to be.”As he wastes away aimlessly on the Buckeye bench, Titus can only ponder the direction his basketball career will take after leaving OSU.After averaging zero points and 0.5 rebounds per game during his junior season, Titus applied for early entry into the NBA Draft. The league rejected his application, however, asking him to withdraw his name before he made a mockery of the process.One year later, despite the bum shoulder, Titus feels more prepared for the next level. His statistics speak just as loud, as he has increased his scoring and assist totals from last year, both from zero to 0.1.“I’ve talked to a few scouts and they said that if I rehab properly, by the time the draft comes around, I should be back to full strength,” he said. “As long as I can prove that I am, it shouldn’t be a big deal.”
Though the Ohio State men’s basketball team took down No. 12 Purdue, 87-64, at home Tuesday, it’s just the beginning of a grueling stretch for the 21-0 Buckeyes: Five of OSU’s next seven games are against ranked teams, and all seven feature opponents with winning records. Before conference play began, coach Thad Matta told his team about the importance of Big Ten play. “I told them in late December that you have 18 battles here and the war’s decided in March,” Matta said in a press conference Friday. “We’ve got to continue to strive and play better basketball.” Matta’s squad will also play in three of the Big Ten’s most intimidating road environments: Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue. Senior guard Jon Diebler stressed the importance of being tough on the road, especially early in games. “The little mistakes that you make can turn into big plays for the other team,” Diebler said Friday. “That’s something that the veteran guys have to lead, by example. We have to get off to a good start.” OSU features five freshmen, three of whom — forwards Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas and point guard Aaron Craft — play more than 15 minutes per game. Fifth-year senior guard David Lighty said the team’s veterans didn’t try to change the younger players’ focus by telling them about the tough road ahead. “We just want to continue what we’ve been doing and try not to change anything up and put added pressure on anyone,” Lighty said Friday. Matta applauded how his experienced players have brought the freshmen along. “You look at great teams in college basketball, and they’ve got a senior-laden team, a strong veteran core,” Matta said. “Hats off to our core returning players. They’ve done a great job of being mentors and leaders for (the younger players).” Before beating Illinois, the Buckeyes began Big Ten play by beating five teams in the lower half of the conference standings. Diebler said he doesn’t take those wins lightly. “The Big Ten’s a great conference and there’s no easy games, especially on the road,” he said. “We’re proud of the fact that we won three games on the road to start out the conference.” The Big Ten is the second-best conference in the nation, behind the Big East, according to the RPI rankings. Iowa is the only team in the conference with a winning percentage below .500. Lighty said OSU has been picking up momentum after a slow start to conference play. “On the defensive end, I say we’ve slowed down a little bit starting the Big Ten season off,” he said. “We’re starting to pick it back up, doing the little things, hedging screens, (switching on defense), communicating.” Despite the team’s apparent defensive struggles, Matta said it has made strides since the end of non-conference play. “The bigger issue is that we’ve got great teams in this league,” Matta said. “At the time of Florida and Florida State, with who we were as a basketball team, those were tremendous tests. We’re definitely better since then.” OSU played Florida and Florida State in November. The Buckeyes are fifth in the RPI rankings. After going through the meat of its Big Ten schedule, though, OSU might see this figure rise. “It will be a good test for us,” Lighty said. “We know we have the potential to be great.” The Buckeyes will travel to Evanston, Ill., to play Northwestern at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The weather didn’t cooperate for Ohio State men’s soccer, nor did the team play its best game against the Columbus Crew, but Buckeyes coach John Bluem said the 11th annual Connor Senn Memorial match was still a success. The Buckeyes met the Crew in the friendly match to honor former OSU player Connor Senn Tuesday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Crew took an early 4-0 lead in a rain-shortened game, but the score was always going to be a secondary matter for both teams in the game. Tuesday’s contest commemorated Senn, who collapsed during a Sept. 26, 2001, game at Akron and died hours later. Senn’s cause of death was determined to be a congenital heart defect that, at the time, was virtually undetectable. The game, which was attended by 1,071, helps raise awareness for sudden cardiac arrest in athletes with proceeds benefiting the Connor Senn Memorial Fund and the Dorothy M. Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center. The Crew was absent from the field during last season’s memorial match because of a Major League Soccer Players’ Union collective bargaining agreement rule that would have forced the club to pay $10,000 to play in the game against the Buckeyes. With the Crew back in the 2012 edition of the match, Bluem said playing against Columbus’ MLS franchise helped raise the community’s awareness of the game, and the cause for which it stands. “People want to come out and see the Columbus Crew,” Bluem said. “There’s always that question of, ‘Well how does Ohio State stack up against the Columbus Crew?’ Unfortunately, we didn’t have a very good performance and there are a lot of reasons for that. But we’re not concerned about that. “We’re concerned about the people here and spreading the message. For us, it was a great evening.” Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers agreed with Bluem. “It’s great to have (Crew) players back involved,” McCullers said. “It’s not really the same match without the Crew playing in it, so it’s important to the organization. It’s one of the key parts to our relationship with Ohio State.” On-field matters were settled quickly as the Crew netted three goals in the opening six minutes of the rain-soaked contest. Midfielder Cole Grossman put Columbus’ pro squad on the board in the second minute, and forward Bernardo Anor followed with an 18-yard, left-footed strike to put OSU in a 2-0 hole. Crew forward Emilio Renteria, who scored eight goals during Columbus’ 2011 campaign, slammed a header past OSU sophomore goalkeeper Alex Wimmer in the sixth minute to up his side’s advantage to 3-0. OSU packed its players in on defense from that point on, but Buckeyes junior forward Chris Hegngi managed to create space for himself and had a shot – the only one of the game for OSU – deflected out of bounds. Had the shot reached goal, Hegngi’s former OSU teammate Matt Lampson would have been there to attempt to block it. Lampson, who played for Bluem from 2008-2011, was signed by the Crew Dec. 14. Lampson said his former teammates informed him before the game that they planned to fire shots from anywhere on the field as soon as they gained possession. “I don’t want to say I hope we could have put more (goals) in,” Lampson said, “because I don’t want to say I was pouring it on. I at least wanted to finish out the game. That’s Columbus, Ohio, for you.” Grossman tallied his second goal of the night in the 27th minute, but the referees ended the action four minutes later as a storm swept over the stadium. Fans were asked to move to the covered concourse under the stadium grandstand and the game was called minutes later. Crew coach Robert Warzycha, father of former Buckeye and MLS draftee Konrad Warzycha, said he was happy to participate in the game again and bring awareness to the heart condition that took Senn’s life. “It’s a great game. That’s a game that we have been looking forward to play in,” Warzycha said. “Too many players die on the field, so we try to help out as much as we can.” Bluem said it was unfortunate the weather got in the way, but the game did justice to the late walk-on defender’s memory. “It was a beautiful turnout, a lot of people here,” he said. “A lot of excitement. The game ended early and that’s too bad, but I think we’ve generated a lot of good feelings.” Bluem, McCullers and Crew defender Danny O’Rourke, a childhood friend of Senn’s, will be present for the first-ever Connor Senn Memorial Symposium Tuesday at the Ohio Union, an educational program for community members about sudden cardiac arrest. The Symposium is set to begin at 8 a.m.
Hit the restart button. That was the message Urban Meyer sent to his newly inherited Ohio State team shortly after getting hired last November. The first-year Buckeyes coach told every one of his players to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Jordan Hall was admittedly listening closely that day, and the senior running back has taken Meyer’s words to heart ever since. Hall was recently bestowed with one of the highest honors an OSU football player can receive when the senior running back was named a team captain Aug. 19. Elected by his teammates, Hall joined defensive lineman John Simon, fullback Zach Boren, linebacker Etienne Sabino and nose tackle Garrett Goebel as the leaders of the 2012 Buckeyes’ squad. While the soft-spoken Jeannette, Pa. native said he thought he had a chance at being chosen a captain, the moment Meyer read off his name in front of all his teammates was a bit of a shock for the veteran playmaker. “It kind of caught me by surprise,” Hall said. “I knew I had a chance, but when Coach Meyer called my name, it kind of did catch me by surprise.” Hall has had his fair share of troubles throughout his three-year career as a Buckeye, highlighted by a two-game suspension he received at the beginning of last season. At a Cleveland-area charity event last summer, Hall, along with two other OSU players, took $200 from a former Buckeye booster and was forced to sit out the team’s first two games of the 2011 season. You could say Hall’s journey to captain began after that suspension ended – Hall was, in fact, a captain for one of OSU’s games last season – but the running back would disagree. Hall said he started over once Meyer was hired and that it’s been “smooth sailing” for him ever since. Hall has impressed Meyer in almost every way imaginable, from his play on the field to his performance in the classroom. “Jordan Hall, his GPA the last two (quarters) … that tells you what he’s done … over a 3.0,” Meyer said of his running back, who had a 3.0 GPA Winter Quarter and a 3.4 GPA in the spring. While Meyer has been pleased with Hall’s performance off the field, he has been ecstatic about his play on it, even though the running back hasn’t had much time to showcase his ability. Hall sat out of the Buckeyes’ Spring Game and missed all of fall camp while recovering from a foot injury. “The guy’s tremendous,” Meyer said of Hall on a July conference call for the American Century Championship golf tournament. “We’re not exactly loaded at that position right now – offensive skill. I’ve been in this long enough. (Hall’s) the kind of warrior who will come back rather quickly if he can.” What Hall will be coming back from is somewhat of a freak injury. On June 27, Hall let his pit bull, Cali, out into the front yard of his Columbus residence. When a barefoot Hall went to clean up after the dog, a broken bottle buried in the grass cut the heel of his foot. He had surgery to repair the damage on June 30, and was in a walking boot until last week. Hall has been rehabbing hard since his surgery – running in the pool, biking and catching 200-300 balls a day while standing still. Hall said he hopes to be ready to play by OSU’s Sept. 8 game against Central Florida. When Hall gets back to full health, he will be the Buckeyes’ starting running back. Hall verified himself worthy of the spot prior to the injury, the OSU coaching staff said. “Jordan really proved himself in the spring, you know, so we’re just trying to get him back,” said OSU running back coach Stan Drayton. “There wasn’t a whole lot that he needed to come out here to this fall camp to prove. I mean, he’s going to be an integral part to this offense.” Hall will get the majority of the carries in the Buckeyes’ offense, but he will be much more than just a runner. Meyer’s noted spread focuses around a hybrid position – a “No. 3,” Meyer calls it. Hall will fill that position, which combines the duties of a running back and a receiver. The senior running back is expected to get the ball in just about every way imaginable. From handoffs to reverses to swing passes, Hall will be expected to gain yards in a variety of ways. Made most famous by former Florida receiver Percy Harvin, who ran for more than 600 yards and had more than 600 yards receiving in his junior season as a Gator, the “No. 3” is someone who can just about do it all. Hall has shown flashes of being able to threaten defenses with both his legs and his hands in previous seasons. He ran for 405 yards on 99 attempts last season, good for 4.1 yards per carry, and had three touchdown catches. Besides quarterback, the hybrid spot might be the most important position on the offensive side of the ball. “It really adds to the versatility of what we can do, both personnel-wise and formation-wise,” Drayton said. “It’s a very integral part.” Hall is an almost perfect fit for the position, Drayton said. “He’s so versatile,” Drayton said. “He’s a physical ball carrier and he’s got great hands. He’s a very smart football player.” The OSU coaching staff has learned how difficult it can be to find a player who can do what the position requires. With Hall out, OSU has tried numerous players in the hybrid spot – among them, redshirt senior receiver Jake Stoneburner, junior receiver Corey “Philly” Brown and sophomore receiver Devin Smith. But Meyer called the search “average.” “That’s hard to find that guy,” Meyer said. “I’m finding out it’s really hard to find a guy who can do this and do this.” Hall’s return to the field can’t come soon enough for the Buckeyes, and the offense isn’t expected to miss a beat when he does. “The essence of the offense has to be installed this time of year and fully understood by our players so that we don’t skip a beat when we do get a player back,” Drayton said. “We have to operate on all levels, all cylinders the right way.” The Buckeyes will likely benefit from Hall’s experience on the field when he gets back, but the veteran has been a leader for OSU even during his time away from practice. Hall said his work ethic over the past two months has been something that the younger Buckeyes can strive for. “I just try to (lead) by the way I handle (the injury).” Hall said. “I’m not making any excuses. I’m still working, doing different things to show them you can only control the things you can control.” Whether he returns to the field Sept. 8 against Central Florida or the following week against California, Hall said he is going to do everything in his power to make sure this season doesn’t end like the Buckeyes’ 6-7 season in 2011. Hall, a senior, can’t hit the restart button after this year. The 2012 campaign will be his final season with the Buckeyes – one last chance to achieve success. “I knew how last season went, and I’m not trying to go out in my senior season like that,” Hall said.
Ohio State junior forward Andre Wesson (24) passes the ball during the first half of the game against South Carolina State on Nov. 18. Ohio State won 89-61. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorOhio State freshman guard Luther Muhammad pushed his way through the paint, putting a ball up for a contested layup. He turned around, facing his teammates as they went back to their defensive position, clapping his hands, screaming at them “Let’s Go.” Even with the encouragement, Samford junior guard Myron Gordon raced past the Ohio State defense on the next possession, easily connecting on a layup, two of 16 first half points. This was the story of the first half for the Buckeyes. In its first game as a ranked team, No. 23 Ohio State came out slow and sluggish, shooting 37.5 percent from the field and making two of 11 3-point attempts while allowing 32 first half points. With 11:36 to go in the game, Ohio State came to life. Muhammad found redshirt senior Keyshawn Woods on a fastbreak, who went up, connected on the layup and was fouled. This helped ignite an offensive showcase, a 21-3 run to help No. 23 Ohio State (5-0) defeat Samford (5-1) 68-50 on Tuesday after outscoring the Bulldogs 39-18 in the second half. Woods said, after trailing by three points going into halftime, Samford gave Ohio State an idea of what it would be seeing every game with a ranking attached to the program. “This game opened our eyes,” Woods said. “It showed that now, everybody’s going to bring us they best. So now we have to be ready for each game and prepare like we want to win every game” Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State in scoring, recording 19 points on five of eight attempts from the field. He also made nine free throws on 12 attempts. Woods also added 14 points in a season-high and team-leading 37 minutes of work. But Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann started the game with a brand new starting lineup. Freshman Duane Washington Jr., freshman Jaedon LeDee and Woods received their first starts in an Ohio State uniform while sophomore Musa Jallow made his first start of the season. Senior guard C.J. Jackson was the only remaining player from Holtmann’s normal starting five. Holtmann said after the game it was “a minor team infraction of being late.” “It just felt like we needed to address,” Holtmann said. “We had talked about it here for the last week about the importance of that and I just felt like this is the best response I needed to have.” The new lineup struggled at the start, as Samford came out to on a quick 8-2 run, leading Holtmann to bring in Muhammad and Kaleb Wesson in with 17:34 left in the first half. Even though he was the only normal starter to start the game for Ohio State, Jackson struggled in the first half, making only one of seven shots from the field, missing all four shots from 3. He finished the game with eight points, shooting 18.1 percent from the field and recording a team-leading nine rebounds. Holtmann said Jackson’s offense affected his defense in the first half and that, overall, his assist numbers need to increase while his turnover numbers need to decrease. “He’s got to play a more consistent floor game,” Holtmann said. “Has to, I just said that exact thing to him in there.” In the first half, Samford head coach Scott Padgett said the Bulldogs’ game plan was to force Ohio State to face a zone defense, something the Buckeyes have not seen before. The head coach said the decision was primarily based on Kaleb Wesson in the middle. “Because they carved up man,” Padgett said. “[Wesson’s] not just big, he plays like a bully. He moves guys around in there. So through either getting the ball to him in a lot of high/low action or off the pick and roll where once you get help, the ball just moves. What it seems to me is they don’t care who scores.” At the beginning of the second half, Woods tried to put it on himself to bring Ohio State some early life in the second half, but failed to do so. On the first three offensive possessions, the redshirt senior missed a 3, was called on a charge and missed another 3. While Woods struggled, redshirt junior guard Brandon Austin continued Samford’s momentum, connecting on a 3 to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to six points. But the Wesson brothers kept Ohio State in the game. Junior forward Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson combined to record the first seven points of the second half, with Andre Wesson giving the Buckeyes the 1-point lead with 15 minutes to go in the game. That offensive success continued, with the Buckeyes going on a 21-3 run to amount to a 52-40 lead with 7:55 to go in the game. But Woods said the offensive run was not just because of increased scoring opportunities. He said defensive stops were key. “We stopped letting them get easy scores,” Woods said. “We finally started communicating like we have been in the past, previous games. We did what we do. We played Ohio State basketball.” In the second half, the Buckeyes limited the Bulldogs to shoot 24.1 percent from the field, making three of eight from deep. The lead remained after Ohio State shot 50 percent from the field in the second half, despite making only one of nine from 3-point range. No. 23 Ohio State will try and continue its five-game winning streak to begin the season Friday when the Buckeyes take on Cleveland State in St. John Arena at 8 p.m.
The letter went on to say: “Retired 1989 but possibly still retained. hese people never retire. Mr Machin, understand you are involved with, etc, a word to the wise, etc!”Elizabeth-Ann Machin, who lives in a house on the estate, said she felt scared when she read the letter allegedly sent by Mr Campbell. Mrs Machin told Kilmarnock Sheriff Court that she saw it as a death threat against her husband, adding: “I was very upset. I was frightened he would get killed or something. My first reaction was, we’ll have to move. Can’t live here any more – this is dangerous.”“I was very ill at the time and was having counselling, still having counselling. It doesn’t go away. It’s every day. I can’t bear it. Just the worry. The worry’s terrible. “It was a roundabout way of saying, ‘Don’t mess with me’.”Mrs Machin, 70, who was recovering from cancer, said she discussed the letter with her husband, adding: “I think he said we can ignore it, confront him or we can phone the police.”Her husband, a 72-year-old retired a business consultant, said: “I took it as particularly threatening and I know it had an effect on my wife.It was very similar to a letter received by one of my neighbours previously.” He told prosecutor Stephanie Macdonald he thought Mr Campbell was responsible and added: “I have no doubt he sent it to me.”Mr Machin, who had CCTV installed after the incident agreed with defence counsel Keith Stewart he had sent numerous emails to RBS and house builder Persimmon about their “unhealthy relationship” with Mr Campbell’s company, Duffield Morgan.Mr Machin also wrote six times to Police Scotland’s chief constable asking why the investigation into the letters was taking so long and referred to police officers using the golf course at Rowallan.The disputes were discussed at residents meetings but Mr Machin said Mr Campbell was “divisive”.He went on: “I told him he was divisive. His whole approach to the homeowners was divisive.” Mr Campbell would carry out “continual patrols past our house and others in his [Land Rover] Defender.”Mr Campbell, of Waterside, Ayrshire, denies threatening or abusive behaviour by sending letters to the couple and to resident Alistair Dickson, between January 2013 and July 2014. The trial was adjourned. Jon Pertwee as Worzel Gummidge Credit:Rex A “Worzel Gummidge” laird sent his tenants letters warning he was a retired secret agent trained to kill in an apparent bid to force them off his land, a court heard.Niall Campbell, who owns Rowallan Castle and the estate near Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire, is said to have sent an anonymous message which said: “1972 – Recruited MI5 field officer. 1975 – Saudi, Lebanon, Yemen. 1992 – honoured, list non-disclosed.”The letter, partially typed and handwritten, said Mr Campbell liked to appear “Worzel Gummidge- like” but was “ruthless and licensed to carry side arms,” the court heard.Worzel Gummidge – a scarecrow character in a series of childrens books from the 1930s by the novelist Barbara Euphan Todd – would come to life but then go into a sulk and become inanimate when being mischievous. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.