COLUMBUS — Ohio State dominated Michigan State in the first meeting this season.
Repeating that effort is going to be much tougher on the road, especially with the Buckeyes down one of their senior leaders.
Buckeyes senior forward and long-time leader Kyle Young will miss Thursday night’s tough road test against a resurgent Michigan State team due to a concussion, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann announced during his press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“Kyle Young will be out with a concussion,” Holtmann said. “It’s significant. There’s no minimizing. It’s a significant hit to our depth and our team. Happened late in the game [against Michigan]. I’m disappointed for him. You’d like for him to be in every game late in his career, certainly one that is against a quality of a team that we’re playing.”
Young was a major factor in the Buckeyes recent seven-game winning streak — and six straight wins on the road in conference play — and helped them nearly beat No. 3 Michigan on Sunday afternoon. Now, the Buckeyes will be forced to overcome the absence of Young, a tall task for the country’s No. 4 team.
Young has provided a physical presence for Ohio State, a team that lacks size against some of the bigger teams in the Big Ten, the best conference in college basketball.
Without him, the Buckeyes find themselves in trouble in more than one area.
“We don’t have a guy on our roster that plays quite like Kyle and kind of brings his multi-dimension, energy, rebounding and physicality,” Holtmann said of Young’s absence. “Obviously it’s a concern. That’s what we’ve looked at the last couple of days. Seth [Towns] will be important, Zed [Key]. Musa [Jallow], if he’s available, he’ll be important as well.
“You miss his activity in terms of pursuing rebounds, his ability to score in the low post and then defend a houser or defend a perimeter player and switch.”
Holtmann did make sure to admit Young hasn’t been as healthy or active as the Buckeyes are accustomed to recently due to a heavy workload in the last few games. Now he has to deal with a concussion before the final three games of the season, and that head injury will keep Young out of at least one game.
He’ll miss the rematch at Michigan State, a team the Buckeyes easily handled by 17 at home. The Spartans struggled in league play but have recently strung together two straight impressive wins and are playing their best basketball of the season.
Without Kyle Young, duplicating that dominant performance from the last meeting with the Spartans will be much tougher.