On the heels of 22 bench points for No. 22 Ohio State (16-4, 7-0), the Buckeyes went on the road to Northwestern (11-9, 2-5) and came away with a 71-65 conference win. Ohio State is now 7-0 in conference play.
The bulk of those 22 points came from sophomore center Micah Potter, who scored a team-high 13 points for OSU on 5-of-5 shooting. Potter also hit his only three-point attempt and both of his free throw attempts. Back-up point guard Andrew Dakich also added six points on two three-point field goals in three attempts.
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann wanted to see how his team would react to a close game down the stretch, and they responded well enough to stifle a late run by Northwestern. What was once a 15-point second-half lead for the Buckeyes was cut to just three points in the final minute. The Wildcats got no closer, however, as OSU point guard C.J. Jackson closed the game out with three free throws for the final 71-65 score.
The Buckeyes went scoreless for the first 2:51 of this game, and because of the slow start, Northwestern held an 8-2 lead early on. Ohio State was sloppy early on, and Wildcat Gavin Skelly took advantage, scoring 7 of NU’s first 12 points.
Northwestern had the momentum in the game, and it picked up even more following a dunk by Scottie Lindsey. Then came one of the plays of the game, as Andre Wesson hit a three for the Buckeyes just 11 seconds later, cutting Northwestern’s lead to 15-14. C.J. Jackson scored on a layup one minute later, giving Ohio State their first lead — a lead they would never relinquish.
The Buckeyes went on a 17-2 run over a 5-minute stretch, giving OSU a 28-17 lead with 5:01 to play in the game. Northwestern closed out the half well, but Ohio State led it 33-25 at intermission.
The second half featured the Buckeyes keeping the Wildcats at arm’s length, at least until Northwestern started pressing OSU. That was also the same time NU decided to hit a couple of threes. Ohio State led it 68-59 with just over two minutes to play. Vic Law then hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to six points.
A little over a minute later, Scottie Lindsey hit a three-pointer, cutting OSU’s lead to just three points with 45 seconds to play. The Buckeyes then put the defensive clamps on the Wildcats to end any hopes of an upset.
Ohio State was able to get a B1G road win without much offensive help from leading scorer Keita Bates-Diop, who scored just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting. He did add eight rebounds and three assists, however, and also had some very nice defensive moments.
His front court partner Jae’Sean Tate added 12 points, and C.J. Jackson pitched in 12 of his own, despite hitting just 3-of-10 shots from the field.
Up next for the Buckeyes is a trip to Madison Square Garden for a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-6, 3-4) on Saturday January 20. Tip is scheduled for 12:00 pm on BTN.