Saturday Stock Watch: Ohio State will struggle unless more scorers emerge

Jeff Eisenberg

There weren't as many marquee games as usual for a Saturday in January, but Illinois, Kansas State and Rutgers still managed to pick up significant victories. Here's a look at whose stock rose and fell so far Saturday:

Stock up: UCLA

The most encouraging part of UCLA's home sweep of Cal and Stanford this week was the Bruins did it with defense. Holding undermanned Cal and poor-shooting Stanford to sub-40 percent shooting doesn't make UCLA a defensive juggernaut, but it's definitely a sign the Bruins are making progress. With a trimmed-down Shabazz Muhammad scoring effortlessly, Travis Wear and Jordan Adams providing offense and Kyle Anderson making an impact on the glass, UCLA doesn't have to play elite-level defense to contend in the Pac-12. The Bruins just have to be better than they were in November and December when even bad teams scored at will.

Stock down: Ohio State

Winning on the road in the Big Ten this season will be extremely difficult, but it was the way Ohio State lost on Saturday that was especially alarming. The Buckeyes were never competitive in a 74-55 loss at Illinois, their third loss to a top 15 team this season. One big reason Ohio State may not be a viable Big Ten contender this year is there aren't enough consistent scorers around Deshaun Thomas. That once again proved to be a problem on Saturday as the Buckeyes were 20 of 60 from the field and 4 of 19 from behind the arc. Thomas scored 24 of the team's 55 points, but his shot selection at times was suspect as it appeared he was pressing to try to carry the Buckeyes back into striking distance.

Stock up: Marquette

Between a heartbreaking opening-round Maui Invitational loss to Butler, a rout at the hands of Florida and a surprising loss to Green Bay, Marquette had some dicey moments in non-conference play. The Golden Eagles haven't fixed all their problems in league play but they've managed to eke out two quality wins at home nonetheless. They escaped UConn in overtime earlier this week and eked out a 49-48 victory over Georgetown on Saturday, moving to 11-3 overall and 2-0 in Big East play. Georgetown's Greg Whittington had a chance to force overtime Saturday when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 2.3 seconds to go, but he missed the third of three free throws to preserve Marquette's one-point win.

Stock up: Jarvis Threatt's free throw shooting

Jarvis Threatt missed all four of his field goal attempts in Delaware's 84-72 win over struggling Old Dominion on Saturday, but the Blue Hens standout still finished with 19 points. What gives? Well, Threatt scored all 19 at the free throw line, sinking 19 of 20 foul shots. Per ESPN's research crew, Threatt's 19 points are the most scored by any player in 15 years who did not have a single field goal. Threatt was shooting only 67.4 percent from the foul line prior to today.

Stock down: Mason Plumlee's free throw shooting

Since shooting a much-improved 77.6 percent from the foul line during November, Mason Plumlee has regressed to the mean. The Duke senior is 32 of 58 (55.1 percent) since then including a 3 of 9 effort in a victory over Wake Forest on Saturday. It shouldn't come as a huge surprise to see Plumlee's percentage drop considering his struggles at the free throw line during his career. Nonetheless, it's damaging for Duke because he will have to be on the floor late in close games this season.