Normally, you'd think OSU would be in big trouble if Jamar Butler was held scoreless but it didn't matter today as the young Bucks toppled Northwestern 62-51 improving their win streak to 7 games.
The freshman trio of Kosta Koufos (17pt, 12reb), Evan Turner (16pt) and Jon Diebler (15pt, 4reb, 5 threes) combined to score 48 of OSU's 62 points including the few key baskets the game required to keep Northwestern at bay.
The biggest came from Diebler after Northwestern trimmed the Buckeyes 37-25 halftime lead to 43-39 with a 14-6 run to open the second half. Taking a pass from the top of the key, Diebler drilled a three from the left wing while getting hacked in the act leading to a 4 point play pushing OSU's lead to 47-39 at the 13:12 mark.
Northwestern would go no closer than 7 points the rest of the way as Othello Hunter scored 6 of Ohio State's final 11 points including two nasty alley-oop dunks book-ending a Koufos dunk and another Diebler 3 putting the Buckeyes up 60-49 with 3:40 to go.
After a career high 32 points against Illy on Thursday, Butler held himself scoreless (0/7 FG) for the first time since Iowa State in December '06 as he clearly focused on getting his teammates involved in preparation for tougher tests ahead. He was almost too unselfish at times but that's a minor critique in what was a quietly dominant 10 rebound, 11 assist performance.
Butler and Koufos helped OSU to 44-23 rebound advantage, including 12 offensive, giving the Buckeyes a 16-2 edge in second chance points. The defense held Northwestern to 31% from the floor forcing them to lauch 32 of their 58 FG's from deep, hitting just 28% (9/32) on those triple tries.
Offensively, the Buckeyes shot 41% from downtown led by Diebler's 4/9 showing. Matta better have Madsen or Wallace on water bucket patrol as Diebler has now hit 19 of his last 35 triples (54%).
The biggest concern today is easily the 20 turnovers with Turner (4) and David Lighty (5) continuing to lead the team in this dubious category. I can tolerate it a little more Turner considering his youth and the fact he's evolving as the third scoring option but Lighty is a different story. He now leads the team with 36 miscues and failed to reach double figures for a 3rd straight game. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect him to be a huge scorer this year but I did expect consistency based on last year's season long improvement but he sometimes seems to be without a defined role on this team.
Regardless, the Bucks are now 2-0 in conference play with Iowa set to invade the Schott on Wednesday night. Not a bad start for a team with more personnel turnover than your local McDonald's.