Northwestern (13-17, 4-15) snapped a 10-game losing streak in their 68-50 win over an Ohio State team (18-12, 8-11) that was desperate for a win in order to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
You would have to watch Stormtroopers fire off shots at Han Solo and Luke Skywalker to find worse shooting than what the Buckeyes managed in the first half against the Wildcats. Ohio State shot 4-of-28 in the first half and 1-of-12 from three-point range, trailing 28-17 at the half.
Once again without leading scorer Kaleb Wesson who is serving an indefinite suspension for an undisclosed violation of athletic department policy, Ohio State struggled nearly every time down the court to find offense.
And down the stretch, the OSU defense waned, possibly because of the amount of exertion required simply to score 40 points on the night.
Ohio State didn’t make their first field goal until the 11:09 mark of the first half. They missed their first 13 field goal attempts, but when that first basket did come, the Buckeyes were only down 12-4.
It didn’t really loosen the lid on the rim, however, as Northwestern led 23-11 with four minutes to play in the half. Keyshawn Woods scored the Buckeyes’ final seven points of the first half, as they trailed 28-17 at the intermission.
Scoring picked up in the second half, as the law of averages dictates, but it also opened up for the Wildcats. Every time Ohio State made a run, it was answered by Northwestern.
The Buckeyes opened with a quick nine points in the first three minutes of the second half, cutting the lead to seven at 33-26. They couldn’t get any closer at the time, as Northwestern turned it back up to an 11-point game. Several other times, the Buckeyes got it to within seven or eight points, and even down to five points following a three-pointer from Duane Washington with 8:54 remaining.
Northwestern responded to that threat with a 10-0 run in a three-minute span to end any Buckeye hopes in this game, and possibly ending their NCAA Tournament hopes as well.
Ohio State closes out the regular season with a home game Sunday against Wisconsin at 4:30 pm on CBS. Because of the loss to Northwestern, this is now a must-win game for the Buckeyes.
+ Luther Muhammad went 0-for-4 from the field and has now made just five of his last 45 field goal attempts. In his last seven games, he has missed every shot he has taken five times, and missed all but one shot twice.
+ Without Kaleb Wesson, the offense just doesn’t work. The over-reliance on one-on-one play and three-point shooting in the final seconds of a shot clock are not tasty ingredients in any recipe. Because he is one of the few players who can get his own shot, Duane Washington was forced to force some shots, which is an unfair position to put a freshman who comes off the bench.
+ Commend Kyle Young for his toughness and effort. Even on a bad wheel, he was still providing as much energy as he could.
+ You have to wonder how much stock the Committee has put in these last two Ohio State games. This is clearly not the same team as when they have Kaleb Wesson, but they’ve also had some rough patches when Wesson wasn’t suspended.
The Box Score