COLUMBUS, Ohio - What has been a mediocre-shooting Buckeye team (21-6, 8-6) got some shots to fall and was rewarded with a surprisingly one-sided win over Northwestern (12-5, 5-9) by a final of 76-60.
Buckeyes Thrash Wildcats for 21st Win
By John Porentas
The final outcome was pretty much all Buckeyes but it didn't look that way from the start.
The Wildcats hit a few shots of their own early on and established a nine point lead at 25-16 with 7:19 remaining in the first half. An old fashioned three point play by OSU point guard Aaron Craft cut that lead to six and also started a 12-2 run by the Buckeyes that tied the game at 28 each at 4:10. OSU then went on to establish a four-point lead at the half.
"We had a hot start shooting the ball and I think for us, we haven't been a team that has shot the ball that well, haven't scored that well, so I think it got into our defense a little bit," said Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins.
"I think we thought we could just score. What Ohio State did was they turned up the heat defensively as the half wore down. I thought that last couple minutes of the half, for them to get the lead going into half time was big."
The second half began with more of the same. The Buckeyes eventually opened up a 21-point lead at the 10:46 mark on a free throw by Marc Loving and the game settled into a rather routine contest. That all changed with just over five minutes left to play when Northwestern center Nikola Cerina pushed OSU center Amir Williams into the basket stanchion. Williams took exception and Cerina took a swing at Williams with a closed fist. A scrum ensued in which OSU forward LaQuinton Ross shoved a Northwestern player. Both Cerina and Ross were ejected from the game. Cerina was also declared ineligible for Northwestern's next game vs. Indiana by virtue of throwing a punch which is considered a fragrant-one violation whether the punch lands or not. A flagrant one carries an automatic one-game suspension in addition to ejection from the current contest.
Four Buckeye starters scored in double figures let by Ross with 16., Lenzelle Smith and Aaron Craft each had 14 and Sam Thompson 11. Thompson connected on three of four attempts from three.
OSU shot 46 percent from the field, but it was their 43.8 percent shooting from three point range that really made the difference.
Ohio State also shot 29 free throws making 23 of them (77.8%).
OSU's next opponent will be Minnesota next Saturday in Columbus. The Gophers were defeated by Illinois tonight and stand at 6-8 in conference play, good for seventh in the Big Ten.
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