Buckeyes Squeak Past Geeks

By Chris Lauderback on January 29, 2011 at 8:39p

No Shurna, no problem. Almost.

Facing an uphill battle, albeit at home, without their 19 ppg scorer, Northwestern gave Ohio State all they could handle before a Jared Sullinger free throw with 3.5 seconds left gave the Buckeyes a 58-57 victory moving them 22-0 overall and 9-0 in conference play.

Sullinger’s 21 points and eight rips paced the good guys and Aaron Craft was also a beast adding 13 points while William Buford chipped in 11.

It looked like the Buckeyes might have finally shaken off the pesky Wildcats by way of a 14-4 blitz fueled by six points apiece from Sully and Buford to open the 2nd half giving Ohio State what seemed like a comfortable 41-29 lead with 14:07 to play but to their credit, Northwestern would not go away.

Still trailing by 12 with 8:25 to play following a strong driving layup from Craft making it 51-39 OSU, the unnerved Wildcats unveiled a frustrating seven point possession igniting a 16-3 spurt. During a Michael Thompson triple, Dallas Lauderdale judo chopped Davide Curletti in the windpipe on a blockout attempt and was whistled for an intentional foul. Curletti stepped to the line making just one of two free throws but it was still Northwestern’s ball on the side. On the ensuing inbounds, JerShon Cobb dialed up from distance trimming the Buckeye lead to 51-46 with 7:24 left.

After David Lighty converted two free throws, Thompson struck again from downtown cutting the lead to 53-49. Poor free throw shooting would hurt the Buckeyes as Sullinger missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Lighty missed two charity tosses before Alex Marcotullio connected from beyond the arc cutting the lead to 53-52. After Sullinger was fouled again but only could only hit one of two, Thompson again got just enough space and bombed another triple putting Northwestern in front 55-54 with 3:53 left. The three pointer was Northwestern’s fifth in six attempts during the run while Sully and Lighty were busy combining to miss four of five free throw attempts.

On the ensuing possession, however, some kid named Diebler who hadn’t scored all night answered with a triple of his own from the top of the circle reclaiming the lead for OSU at 57-55 with 3:38 left.

After the teams traded two empty possessions each, the Wildcats used up the rest of the tank as Thompson hit an impressive driving teardrop over Lighty tying it up at 57 apiece with 1:33 left in regulation.

Craft committed what could have been a costly turnover off a bad pass to Diebler on the following possession but Lighty picked off a backdoor pass from Marcotullio. Still tied at 57 with :17 left, Matta elected not to call timeout as the Buckeyes pounded the ball inside to Sullinger on the left block who was fouled by Marcotullio. Sullinger missed the first but hit the second giving Ohio State a 58-57 lead with 3.5 to play. Having to go the length of the floor, Drew Crawford was effectively defended and his shot from midcourt failed to strike iron keeping OSU’s perfect season intact.

Despite shooting a ridiculous 57% from the field with just five turnovers, the Buckeyes were still far from perfect allowing eight long offensive rebounds while losing Wildcats on their fair share of backdoor cuts helping Northwestern assist on 16 of their 20 field goals. The Buckeyes also lost the glass 22-18 and forced just six turnovers but held Northwestern to 40% shooting including 9/29 (31%) from beyond the arc.  

Thompson led Northwestern with 16 points and eight assists while Mike Capocci added 11 in Shurna’s absence.

Diebler took just four shots in 40 minutes finishing with three points and three boards. Lighty was also ineffective at the offensive end adding just six points.

With Northwestern selling out on the perimeter to start the game, Ohio State was forced to attack the paint building a 6-5 lead to 15-8 behind a shocking 19 foot dribble drive from Lauderdale before Sullinger picked the pocket of Mike Capocci and used a behind the back dribble to gain space for the end to end layup and a 10-5 lead. After Craft foolishly fouled Drew Crawford on a triple try, Buford converted a baseline and-1 off a nice feed from Craft and Sullinger hit a pair of free throws.

The lead was short lived as Northwestern stuck to the script of exhausting the shot clock with the Princeton offense producing a methodical 13-4 run capped by back to back bombs from JerShon Cobb and Michael Thompson to take a 21-19 lead with 3:51 left in the half.

Craft assured Ohio State a 27-25 halftime lead scoring eight of OSU’s final 10 points while Sullinger added 10 points and four boards for the half with Buford tossing in five. Lighty and Diebler were non-factors, both picked up two fouls, combining for just two points on 1/3 shooting.

The Buckeyes shot a healthy 50% in the opening 20 minutes but assisted on just 3/11 field goals as Northwestern’s switching defense triggered plenty of one of one action. Meanwhile, the OSU defense didn’t win any points for intensity but still managed to hold the Wildcats to 36% shooting as Northwestern consistently ran the clock before launching a trey on 12 of their 22 field goal tries.  

In addition to making it 22 straight W’s this season, the victory is OSU’s 26thstraight in the regular season and moves them to 37-2 in their last 39 games overall.

The Buckeyes now head back to Value City Arena where they await the Michigan Wolverines for a 7:00pm tip next Thursday night.


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Nick's picture

Both Thomas and Sibert recorded a trillion!!!!!!!


Sibert : 1 min
Thomas : 6 min

gravey's picture

Lighty getting schooled on the backdoor cut a few too many times...Diebs too.  I'm gettin' a little concerned about Dave's play.  Love the guy, but he's playing more like a freshman than the freshmen in the last few games...but stepped up when the game was on the line.  How many moving screens do those guys set per possession?  Don't think they called any did they?

Nick's picture

No the officiatating was generally bad overall. I feel like they are always giving the other guy the benefit especially against Lighty in the lane was pushed quite a few times.

TLB's picture

Officiating is always bad in the B1G and you are correct, they always give the team with less talent the benefit.

I can't believe they called the intentional foul on Dallas.  While I understand they are trying to protect players from head shots, what is a guy to do if he is a foot taller than the other guy?

buckeyedude's picture

Man, these guys were flat! N'western played that rope a dope type b-ball that PSU plays. Boring as hell, but if you keep the score low, you have a shot.

It's basketball like that that made the shot clock necessary.

And yes, that officiating was bad.



JakeBuckeye's picture

If this were a home game and there hadn't been so many top 10 teams losing this week, then I'd be concerned.

buckeye33's picture

By taking the full 35 seconds before shooting, NW shortened the game dramatically. By getting 8 long offensive rebounds reduced our possessions almost in half. Good strategy, you might see this again? Thought we would full court press on a couple of possessions to test NW ?

Normal Buck's picture

I'll confess to being pretty much of a moron when it comes to hoops knowledge, but I was also wondering why OSU didn't try to suffocate them with the press, at least a little.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I especially loved the palming call on Buford when no less than 5 minutes before that, one of the NU backcourt players (can't remember who) had one of the WORST and more obvious than the one called. And yes, the intentional foul was somewhat of a freebie. First time I have ever seen a seven point possession in 20+ years of basketball (both playing and watching). The good news for tOSU. I think this game (and the entire weekend of ranked teams losing) is/was a humbling experience. These guys needed it after the Purdue game and the media attention that followed all week. Now they know they are gonna be in dog fights from here on out and hopefully understand that if they don't show up, they will lose.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

RBuck's picture

Game ball goes to Matta for not calling a TO at the :17 mark. Took their coach right out of the game 'til :035 lft.

Long live the southend.

Keith's picture

* Per Gasaway, only a 49 possession game - 2nd lowest in major college bball this  year.

* Generally speaking, I thought the officiating was fine.  They missed some on NU and they missed some on us.  I thought the two Lighty travels were obvious and I thought the palm on Buford was too.  In fact, it could be argued before palm call, Buford got away with a walk or carry about 5 seconds earlier in the possession when he double clutched on a pass and decided to keep his dribble.

* Lauderdale's elbow which led to 7 points in one trip for NU was the major catalyst.  He ought to be running stairs right now.

* Diebs couldn't get many open looks and was really passive working to get open as well, I thought.  His post entry into Sully at the end was picture perfect though and was not an easy feed.

* Lighty was victimized about 5 times for easy buckets.  Disappointing.  But, he came up with a big steal at the end.

* Love this team but wish we could close out games better.  Off the top of my head, this is the 5th game where we had a double digit 2nd half lead only to watch it go to FTs (Michigan, PSU, Minnesota, Illinois, NU)

RBuck's picture

On the officiating:

Worst call in the game was the held ball near the end involving Lighty. The masked man barely even got his hand on the ball on the rebound and did a flop on top of Lighty. NW's possesion and they go down and hit another trey.

Long live the southend.

buckeye33's picture

With 9 games remaining on the schedule, the Buckeyes enter the toughest part of the schedule. With four road games including @ Minn & Wisc (back to back) , Purdue & Penn State & five home games , Mich. Mich St., Ill, Ind, & Wisc. If this team wins out, it would be a remarkable run.  Playing on the road is always tough (look at NW) but to win over the top teams over the next few weeks would really put this team on another level.

JakeBuckeye's picture

I don't know why he would, but I think Cardale Jones may commit to us.

BuckeyeChief's picture

Don't know if you all are watching, but Duke is getting crushed right now.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

ERIC OSU's picture

Tracking the score on my phone, are they playing bad or st johns playing out of their mind? Also just shows playing on the road anywhere is extremely difficult to do.. duke on the road:loss at fsu and down 21 to the johnnies at the half.

BuckeyeChief's picture

Combo of both but I say within 2 years, the Johnnies will be back...

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

KenK's picture

Yep. Pretty exciting weekend for some top-ranked teams. I guess our 1-point road win doesn't look soo bad after all.

Johnny Hooker: "He's not as tough as he thinks". Henry Gondorff: "Neither are we".

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Duke has to be the most overrated team in America. But like Earth, they will somehow make a run in the Final Four per great seeding.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Jason Priestas's picture

0 wins over ranked teams this season for the Blue Devils.

Craig56's picture

God, I hate Northwestern basketball. You know, even if they had Shurna, they wouldn't have done any better because they play to only take so many shots over the course of the game, anyway. Shurna would just take shots from one of the other guys.

Now, if they wanted to open up the game, THEN there would be more shots for Shurna and he might have made a difference.

You'll have to excuse me now, I'm off to practice my pass-the-ball-for-34-ticks-and-then-put-up-a-jumper-at-the-last-second. 

yrro's picture

It makes sense against a better opponent. Fewer touches means higher variance for the game, higher variance means more chance of the underdog getting luck to go their way.

Imagine you're betting on horse with Michael Jordan - would you be more likely to win betting it all on one shot, or best of 100?