ROSEMONT, Ill. – Ohio State's first game as a ranked team in nearly three years went as planned – for about three-fourths of the game.
No. 22-ranked Ohio State survived a late scare to push past the Wildcats, 71-65, as eight different Buckeyes found the bottom of the net in the victory.
|No. 22 OHIO STATE||33||38||71|
After leading by double digits for the majority of the contest, the Buckeyes allowed the Wildcats to cut the lead to just three with 43 seconds to play before Ohio State was able to ice the game at the free throw line as C.J. Jackson converted on three of four free throws in the closing seconds.
The Buckeye bench contributed 22 points, including 13 from sophomore center Micah Potter, his best offensive performance since Nov. 16 against Texas Southern. Jae'Sean Tate and Jackson also scored in double digits, each scoring 12 for Ohio State.
After scoring at least 20 points in each of his last four games, Ohio State star forward Keita Bates-Diop was held to just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but still contributed eight rebounds and three assists.
The Scarlet and Gray missed on their first five shot attempts from three-point range, just two games after making a season-high 17 in a win over Maryland. The second half however, started with a pair of outside jumpers from Kam Williams, the second of which came from well behind the three-point arc, giving the Buckeyes a 39-28 lead out of halftime.
|26-55 (47.3%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||26-58 (44.8%)|
|6-17 (35.3%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||8-27 (29.6%)|
|13-17 (76.5%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||5-10 (50.0%)|
Twice the Wildcats cut the Ohio State lead to single digits with thunderous dunks from Dererk Pardon early in the second half, but each time the Buckeyes responded. After Pardon completed an old-fashioned three-point play with 14:58 to play to cut the OSU lead to 43-34, the Buckeyes responded with an 8-2 run to open its largest lead of the game at 51-36, forcing a timeout from Northwestern coach Chris Collins.
After Northwestern answered with a three-pointer from Bryant McIntosh, Ohio State got a lift from an unexpected source. Potter scored nine of the next 11 Buckeye points, to extend the lead back to 13 at 62-49 with 7:23 to play.
Behind full-court pressure, the Wildcats again cut into the Ohio State lead, crawling back to within three with 43 seconds to play, before Jackson iced the game at the line.
Ohio State started the game slow, as Northwestern took an early 8-2 lead in the opening minutes as the Buckeyes struggled to find holes in the Wildcat zone. The Scarlet and Gray converted on just four of their first 13 shot attempts, as the Wildcats took a 15-11 lead on a thunderous dunk from guard Scottie Lindsey with 9:53 to play in the first half.
From there, the Buckeyes rattled off a 10-0 run, capped by a mid-range shot in the lane from Jae'Sean Tate that forced Northwestern to spend a timeout. Ohio State extended its lead to as many as 11 in the first half before the Wildcats inched closer, trailing 33-25 heading into the locker room.
The Wildcats were led by Westlake, Ohio native Gavin Skelly, who scored nine of his 11 points in the first half. Vic Law also scored 14 for the Wildcats.
Ohio State is set to return to action Saturday at noon to take on Minnesota from Madison Square Garden in New York City.