ROSEMONT, Ill. – The start to the 2017-18 season probably didn't get off to the start that Micah Potter wanted.
Just one game after dropping a career-high 17 points in an 82-64 win over Texas Southern on Nov. 16, Potter suffered a high ankle sprain against Northeastern, an injury that forced him to miss the better part of a month.
Since returning from the injury, Potter appeared to struggle to find a rhythm in game action, scoring just 21 points in seven games since returning to full-time action off the bench for the Buckeyes.
That all changed Wednesday night against Northwestern.
In 16 minutes off the bench, Potter poured in 13 points – 11 in the second half – on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting as the Buckeyes escaped Rosemont, Ill., with a 71-65 win over the Wildcats to remain unbeaten in Big Ten play.
Nine of Potter's 11 second-half points came during a four-minute, 27-second stretch in which the Mentor native scored all but two of Ohio State's points.
His 13 points for the game led all Buckeye scorers.
His lift off the bench would not have been possible, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said, had it not been for the work Potter has continued to put in during practice.
"I thought he was critical. I thought Micah was sensational. The challenge is keeping yourself ready in practice and practicing well," Holtmann said. "I don't think that (performance) happens if Micah had not practiced well the last few weeks. Just getting back and getting healthy, but practicing better has given him a little more confidence. You saw today an example of him just making the necessary plays. I was really happy for him."
Even since returning from the injury, Potter's minutes had dipped and had not recovered. He played just eight minutes against Rutgers on Sunday and just 11 combined minutes against Maryland and Michigan State the week prior.
With starters Kaleb Wesson (3-of-8) and Keita Bates-Diop (4-of-12) struggling from the floor, however, Potter was able to give Ohio State the extra boost it needed offensively.
"It feels really good. Obviously Kaleb and Keita had rough nights, but that is a rarity for them," Potter said. "Those two guys bring it every day in practice, and you have to give a lot of credit to Northwestern. They beat them up really well. They did a good job defensively on them, but at the same time, I was glad I was able to step up and help the team."
After a stretch where Potter had made just three shots in as many games, the sophomore center said it just took one shot to fall against the Wildcats before he felt like he was shooting the ball with confidence again.
"I just needed one to go in. That is the biggest thing for any kind of shooter," Potter said. "You need to see one go in and get that boost of confidence."
The confidence seemed to stretch to more than just Potter on Wednesday night, as four Buckeyes scored in double-figures, including Jae'Sean Tate and C.J. Jackson, who each poured in 12 in the win over Northwestern.
The victory gave Ohio State its seventh straight victory to open conference play, but after hearing that the 2010-11 Buckeyes started the season 11-0 in the Big Ten, Potter said he wants to break that record.
"Well shoot, we have to get 12-0," Potter said with a smile. "Obviously right now we are focused on the next game. It would be cool to break all kinds of records, but we are focused on the next game."
That next game for Ohio State comes against Minnesota in Madison Square Garden on Saturday, with tip set for noon.