For the better half of Tuesday evening, Northwestern looked like it would snap its 30-game losing streak in Columbus. Then Ohio State woke up.
Thad Matta's club overcame a hapless first half offensive showing to survive against the Wildcats, 71-63, and snap a two-game losing skid.
Keita Bates-Diop's floater gave the Buckeyes a 52-50 advantage with 5:58 remaining, their first lead since the 15:28-mark of the opening half. Northwestern tied it two minutes later on a Scottie Lindsey 3-pointer, but JaQuan Lyle answered with one of his own to give the Buckeyes back a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Ohio State made 14 straight free throws over the game's final 5:01 and 16-of-17 in the second half to seal the win.
Ohio State's 1-2-2 three-quarter-court press gave Northwestern fits late, and the Buckeyes found just enough offense to survive falling to the Wildcats in Columbus for the first time since an 83-72 decision Feb. 24, 1977.
Bates-Diop scored nine of his 11 points in the second half, but Lyle led Ohio State (15-10, 7-5 Big Ten) with 16 points. Marc Loving added 15 and Jae'Sean Tate 10. Trevor Thompson led his team with nine rebounds and added 12 points.
|23-56 (41)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||21-54 (39)|
|6-18 (33)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||12-27 (44)|
|19-23 (83)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||9-12 (75)|
Northwestern rode a strong display of outside shooting to surge ahead in the early. Six of the Wildcats' nine made field goals in the first half came from beyond the arc.
A woeful offensive performance by Ohio State State in the first half led to the Buckeyes trailing, 33-26, at intermission. The Buckeyes shot 35 percent from the field and fell behind by as many as 10. Northwestern didn't fare much better shooting-wise, connecting on 37 percent of its shots in the opening half, but the Wildcats held a 25-15 rebounding advantage.
Northwestern led deep into the second half, but only scored 15 points in the game's final 10 minutes. The Wildcats (16-9, 4-8) finished 12-of-27 from deep and out-rebounded the Buckeyes, 38-34.
Northwestern has lost six of its last seven games.
Ohio State visits Rutgers Saturday at 4 p.m.