Buckeyes Blow Past Northwestern in the Second Half
Ohio State utilized a solid second half of basketball to blow past visiting Northwestern 63-49 moving to 17-9 and 7-8 in Big Ten play. Ohio State played maybe their most efficient half of basketball of the season, assisting on 18 of 25 field goals, while only turning it over 8 times, 1 in the second half, winning a very important basketball game for their NCAA tournament hopes. Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists to help the Buckeyes snap a 2 game losing streak.
It was an ice-cold start for both teams as they combined to go 0 for 7 from deep and 2 of 15 overall in the first 5 minutes. The first Wildcat field goal coming with just over 5 minutes into the ballgame giving Northwestern an early 3-2 advantage. Neither team found much of a stroke for much of the first half, but fueled by a pair of Duane Washington, Jr. threes, the Buckeyes found themselves in front 12-8 at the under 8 minute media timeout. Ohio State extended the lead to 6, but back to back turnovers by Keyshawn Woods at the top keyed a 6-0 Northwestern run that tied the game with 4 ½ to go. The Buckeyes came right back as Kaleb Wesson took an entry pass from Andre Wesson and completed an old-fashioned three-point play to give Ohio State a 3-point lead. After a Wildcat turnover, a feed from Woods to Kaleb Wesson led to a dunk that gave Ohio State a 5 point lead heading into the under 4 minute media timeout. The Buckeyes would ultimately go into the locker room with a 24-20 advantage in a half that saw very little offense. The Buckeyes hit only 37.5% of their first half shot attempts, including just 2 of 12 from deep. Northwestern was even worse from the field, hitting on just 29% of their field goal attempts and just 2 of 11 from long range. Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State with 9 and Duane Washington Jr. added 6.
The Buckeyes extended the lead to 7 in the early minutes of the second half forcing Northwestern to call timeout with the Buckeyes doing the majority of their damage in the paint. Kaleb Wesson with a quick 4 points and an assist on a pass to Justin Ahrens cutting along the baseline for a lay in as part of a 6-0 Buckeye run. The Buckeyes extended the lead to 9 as Kaleb Wesson found Ahrens on another backdoor cut for an uncontested dunk. The Wildcats trimmed the lead to 5 as the teams hit the bench at the under 12 media timeout as Ohio State was unable to find the stroke from long range. The Buckeyes came out firing out of the timeout and after back to back threes from CJ Jackson and Kaleb Wesson and another lay in by Wesson, the Buckeyes suddenly found themselves up 12 forcing Northwestern to call a timeout with 8:22 to go and Ohio State enjoying a 50-38 lead. The Buckeyes continued to stretch the lead with solid defense and efficient offense. When Keyshawn Woods completed the old-fashioned three-point play with just under 4 minutes to go, the Buckeyes led by 19 and the game was essentially over.
As stated earlier, it was a must win for Ohio State to keep their post season tournament hopes alive and they were able to get it with the pressure on. Playing the majority of the game without senior guard C.J. Jackson, who struggled with foul trouble, the Buckeyes were able to get quality extended minutes from Duane Washington, Jr. and Keyshawn Woods to complete the win. Kaleb Wesson played probably his best floor game of the season. He was a factor in all facets of the game while only fouling just once. Ohio State will need to put two halves together as they had in the second half in upcoming games, as the schedule to finish February will be more challenging than it was tonight. If they can hold serve at home the rest of the way and win the road game at Northwestern in a couple weeks, they will certainly hear their name called on selection Sunday.
The Buckeyes get after it again on Saturday afternoon in College Park, Maryland, taking on the 24th ranked Maryland Terrapins. Tip time for that game is scheduled for 2 PM to be aired on ESPN.
– Jason Harris