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Indiana at Ohio State: Women’s basketball QnA with Land-Grant Holy Land

We called upon our friends in Columbus to learn more about the Buckeyes.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 10 Indiana women’s basketball and No. 8 Ohio State are tied atop the Big Ten (along with No. 3 Iowa) and set to play this afternoon in Columbus.

The Buckeyes and Hoosiers played a trio of exciting tilts last season and are two of the most fun to watch teams in the country. They’re only scheduled to play once in the regular season this year though, so we reached out to Thomas Costello of Land-Grant Holy Land to learn more about the Scarlet and Gray.

Here’s the scoop on the 2023-24 Buckeyes!

Crimson Quarry: Cotie McMahon showed flashes of dominance en route to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year. How has her game developed here in year two?

Land-Grant Holy Land: Year two Cotie McMahon started with a period of transition. Last season, the freshman benefited from the presence of sharpshooting guard Taylor Mikesell. While McMahon had incredible moments of driving to the basket and taking over games, it was due to Mikesell taking attention away from the paint.

So, at the start of the season, McMahon had those flashes of brilliance from last season, but the frustration was evident when things weren’t going the same way as last postseason. That lull lasted through the end of the 2023 calendar year.

Since then, McMahon’s been a revelation, helping the Buckeyes in all new ways. Those runs to the basket, through traffic, are still there, but McMahon sees more of the court, and going to the basket isn’t always the end game.

Against the Purdue Boilermakers, McMahon was two assists shy of a triple-double. The sophomore’s increased her energy on the boards and is finding teammates both in and outside of the paint for open opportunities once defenders close in. McMahon is on a four-game double-double streak. That includes a 33-point performance against the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes, showing that she can still take over a game offensively on her own too.

CQ: The last time these teams played was… forgettable for Indiana fans. What did the come-from-behind Big Ten Tournament win mean for OSU? What have the Buckeyes been up to since? Any big changes in terms of personnel or role?

LGHL: As exciting as that game was, the high didn’t last too long for Ohio State. The next day the Buckeyes had one of its worst losses in program history, falling to a triple-double by Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The Scarlet and Gray had a deep NCAA Tournament run to bounce back, making it to the Elite Eight, which included an upset Sweet Sixteen victory over the UConn Huskies.

Roster-wise, Mikesell is the lone Buckeye who started regularly and didn’t return (NCAA eligibility ran out). There’s been a gap in three-point shooting with her gone, but the transfer of National Defensive Player of the Year finalist Celeste Taylor from Duke gave Ohio State a different dimension. The Buckeyes are improving defensively in part because of the energy and fire Taylor has off the ball. There are fewer easy rebounds and passes when Taylor can predict where players are going.

CQ: Ohio State has dropped just three games this season. What did USC, UCLA, and Michigan do to find success against Kevin McGuff’s side?

LGHL: The USC Trojans found success through freshman JuJu Watkins. The Trojan scored 32 points in her NCAA premiere, and it looked too easy. I chalk that game up to the Buckeyes still learning to adjust to a different offensive style than they’ve used for the two previous seasons.

UCLA was because of 6-foot-7 center Lauren Betts. Ohio State had no answer for her, couldn’t do anything inside the paint and minimized the work of Jacy Sheldon and McMahon.

For Michigan, the Buckeyes were just plain bad. Ohio State gave the ball away too easily, and it seemed like the scarlet and gray thought they could go into Ann Arbor and easily come away with a victory. Michigan was motivated and didn’t relent on the Buckeyes.

That defeat against the Wolverines is the catalyst not only for McMahon’s explosion but the Buckeyes playing better team basketball. They’re slowly realizing that they can’t only play their best basketball against the Iowas and Indianas of the conference.