Ohio State men's basketball is undefeated in 2023.
The Buckeyes played New Year's Day hoops against Northwestern on Sunday and defeated the Wildcats, 73-57, on Sunday to claim their third consecutive victory and improve to 10-3 overall with a 2-0 record in Big Ten competition.
Sean McNeil had his best performance to date for the Buckeyes. The transfer from West Virginia collected 15 points on 62.5% shooting with a 3-of-5 mark from behind the arc.
Brice Sensabaugh, a back-to-back Big Ten Freshman of the Week, also shined for the Buckeyes and added a game-high 18 points on 50% shooting from the floor. His ability to score was also met with plenty of effort in other areas of his game, as the talented first-year player recorded eight rebounds and two blocks in the contest.
McNeil, Sensabaugh, Justice Sueing (13) and Zed Key (11) finished in double figures for the Buckeyes as the team turned in a great offensive performance against the Wildcats. For the game, Ohio State shot 46% from the floor and recorded an eye-popping 52% clip in the second half.
Ohio State ran out to an early lead over Northwestern, outscoring the Wildcats 14-3 by the first media timeout and 18-6 by the second.
That advantage occurred because of Ohio State's efficiency on both ends of the floor. Offensively, five players contributed to the team's 18 points, including Sensabaugh, Sueing, Thornton, Sean McNeil and Tanner Holden. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes were stout defensively and forced the Wildcats to settle for jumpers instead of inside the comfortable confines of the paint.
The next stoppage didn't take place until 6:41 remaining in the first half. At that time, Ohio State was still very much in control of the contest with a 24-8 advantage over Northwestern thanks to a 20-5 run that had lasted almost 10 minutes to that point.
|26-56 (46.4%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||19-67 (28.4%)|
|6-15 (40.0%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||9-31 (29.0%)|
|15-20 (75.0%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||10-17 (58.8%)|
After that timeout, Ohio State found a groove that Northwestern could not match. McNeil continued his fantastic start to the game with a deep 3-pointer, which was followed by an emphatic Eugene Brown III dunk that raised the roof in Welsh-Ryan Arena and forced a Wildcats timeout as the Buckeyes extended their lead to 29-8. When the teams retook the floor, McNeil connected on a floater and Sueing added three free throws to make it 34-8.
In the minutes before the half, Ohio State's offense hit a dry spell and did not convert on any of its final seven attempts from the floor. Still, its defense continued to suffocate Northwestern, who only managed to add nine more points before the break and cut the Buckeyes' lead to 35-17 as the clock hit triple zeroes.
Ohio State finished the half 13-of-31 shooting (42%) from the floor with a 3-of-9 mark (33%) from behind the 3-point line. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes held Northwestern to 7 of 33 from the floor (21%) with only 3 of 14 makes from beyond the arc while collecting four blocks and four steals.
Sueing and McNeil paced the Buckeyes with 11 points each in the opening 20 minutes. Both players were incredibly efficient shooting the basketball, with the former converting on 66% field goals and adding three makes from the charity stripe, while the latter also connected on 66% of his shots with the same percentage from deep.
McNeil opened the second half with a free throw awarded to Ohio State via an administrative technical foul on Northwestern. Sensabaugh then added Ohio State's next points with a beautiful drive to the baseline where he stopped short of the block and used nice touch to convert from the midrange.
New year, same Brice. @bricepsensa x @OhioStateHoops pic.twitter.com/9FBXMdCwAj— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) January 2, 2023
After Sensabaugh's bucket, the Buckeyes worked to put the Wildcats away for good and claim a victory. McNeil stayed hot with another 3-pointer and Sensabaugh added one of his own before Key flushed home a dunk to give Ohio State a 46-18 lead by the first media timeout of the second half.
ZED. KEY. @iamzedkey x @OhioStateHoops pic.twitter.com/7r5EUX3KpX— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) January 2, 2023
From the 12:00 to the 4:00 mark, Ohio State went cold from the floor, which allowed Northwestern to creep back into the game. However, Sensabaugh had an answer for every run the Wildcats attempted to put forth, as the Orlando, Florida, native recorded 16 of his 18 points in the second half and scored everywhere from the 3-point line to the paint.
Despite the final score of 73-57, Holtmann elected to keep his starters in the game until the final buzzer sounded, as the Buckeyes made sure to keep the Wildcats at bay until they saw three zeroes across the game clock.
Ohio State's next matchup comes against top-ranked Purdue on Thursday. The Buckeyes will benefit from a home-court advantage in the battle with the NCAA's best team, as Holtmann and his team will host the Boilermakers at the Schottenstein Center. Tip-off for the contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FS1.
- Bruce Thornton, Sean McNeil, Brice Sensabaugh, Justice Sueing and Zed Key were the starters for Ohio State. That combination of players has started for the Buckeyes for the previous five games.
- Entering the game, Ohio State held a 122-48 advantage in its all-time series with Northwestern, including a 71-15 record in Columbus and a 50-33 mark in Evanston. Last season, the Buckeyes prevailed 95-87 at home. E.J. Liddell scored 34 points and Malaki Branham added 24.
- Brice Sensabaugh has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week in each of the last two weeks. The Orlando, Fla., native led the Buckeyes with 22 points vs. North Carolina on Dec. 17 and paced the team with 19 points, seven rebounds and a season-high seven assists vs. Maine on Dec. 21.