Assuring the faithful there would be no hangover effect after two straight wins against ranked foes, Ohio State came out firing in a 76-56 runaway over the Wildcats tonight in the Schott.
The Buckeyes hit 8 of their first 9 shots, assisting on 7, to build a 17-3 lead. The margin would swell to 40-17 at the half as OSU used excellent ball movement to exploit holes along the baseline in Northwestern's 1-3-1 zone assisting on 11 of 14 field goals. At the other end of the floor, Thad continuously rotated defenses from man to zone and combined with sharp intensity and clean switches throughout the shot clock, the Buckeyes forced the off balance Wildcats into 4/22 shooting (18%). Evan Turner and P.J. Hill were especially effective against Michael Thompson, the offensive orchestrator, holding him to just three points (1/5) in the opening 20 minutes. OSU also controlled the glass posting a 21-11 advantage at the break.
Northwestern actually outscored OSU 39-36 in the second half though the Buckeye lead never dipped below 18 allowing Thad to empty the bench down the stretch.
Turner was his usual best player in the conference self threatening a triple double posting 20 points (7/11 FG), 13 boards and 8 assists while locking down Thompson to the tune of 6 points on 2/10 from the floor. The win produced a milestone for The Villain as he became on the second Buckeye (JJ) to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in a career. As expected, Jon Diebler also had a big night against the not-so-athletic Wildcats with 17 points (6/11 FG) and 5 assists. Four of those dimes came in the first half as he unselfishly made the extra pass on a triple by Hill, looked inside feeding Dallas Lauderdale for two alley oops and hit Wil Buford on the baseline for a nasty throwdown.
Speaking of Buford, the smooth stroke from Toledo scored all 8 of this points in the first half and played just 22 minutes total as Thad gave the bench some minutes once the game was in hand. Down low, Lauderdale was the beneficiary of sick passing producing a perfect night from the floor (6/6) and a career high 14 points to go along with 6 boards in 20 minutes. David Lighty never really got into the offensive flow scoring 7 points (2/5) with 3 dimes against 3 turnovers.
For the game, OSU shot a stellar 52% and initiated the action all night contributing to a 15/20 night from the stripe. The Buckeyes also won the battle of the boards 32-25 against a team that nearly doubled up Purdue on the glass in their last outing. The rotating defense held Northwestern to 38% from the floor.
The win moves Ohio State to 14-5 overall and to 4-3 in conference play as they prepare for possible revenge at #12 West Virginia on Saturday.