Buckeyes Embarrassed in Evanston

Ohio State saw its NCAA tournament hopes take a major blow, falling to lowly Northwestern in Evanston 68-50 snapping a 10 game Wildcat losing streak and sending Ohio State to 18-12 on the year and 8-11 in the Big Ten.  Keyshawn Woods led Ohio State with 15 points and 7 rebounds and Duane Washington, Jr. added 11 for the suddenly reeling Buckeyes.  Playing without their leading scorer and best player, Kaleb Wesson, who sat out his second straight game due to Athletic Department suspension, the Buckeyes struggled mightily offensively for the second straight game.  The Buckeyes finished the game hitting only 17 of 64 shot attempts, including just 4 of 26 from downtown and looked nothing like the basketball team that beat Iowa a week ago.

The Buckeye offense struggled out of the gate, missing their first 7 shots as Northwestern grabbed an early 6-0 lead.  Ohio State finally got on the board at the 16:15 mark as Andre Wesson was fouled shooting a three and made 2 of his three attempts to trim the deficit to 6-2.  The Buckeyes continued their poor shooting extending the streak of misses to 13 in a row enabling Northwestern to grab a 12-2 lead 8 minutes into the game.  The streak finally ended when C.J. Jackson hit a runner in the lane that started a 8-2 run, capped by a Justin Ahrens three, that trimmed the Wildcat lead to 14-10.  The Wildcats would answer with a 3 of their own and Ohio State trailed 17-10 at the under 8 media timeout.  As the Buckeyes continued to struggle to score, Northwestern took advantage, going ahead 21-10 forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with 4:31 remaining in the half.  The Cats would stretch the lead to as large as 12 before settling on a 28-17 lead as the first half mercifully came to an end.  The Buckeyes shot a putrid 4 of 27 from the floor for 14.8% and if not for making 8 of 12 free throws, it could’ve been even worse.  Keyshawn Woods led Ohio State with 8 in the first 20 minutes and was the only Buckeye to hit more than 1 field goal.

The Wildcats extended the lead to 31-17 out of the half before a mini run, capped by a Keyshawn Woods triple from the left wing fell cutting the lead to 33-26 with 17 minutes to go.  However, with Northwestern leading 35-26, Andre Wesson picked up his 4th personal foul on a loose ball at the top of the key sending the teams to the benches at the under 16 timeout. The Buckeyes tried to creep closer as a Kyle Young tip in cut the Northwestern lead to 7 but a rare Dererk Pardon 3 gave the Cats a 10 point lead with 12 minutes left in the basketball game.  C.J. Jackson answered with a 3 of his own, but Northwestern buried yet another 3 to answer before a Kyle Young lay in trimmed the lead to 8.  Northwestern got the lead to 10 but Duane Washington Jr. scored on a dribble drive while being fouled but missed the free throw attempt as Ohio State trailed by 8 with 10:39 to play.  A Duane Washington Jr. triple from the left wing got the Buckeyes as close as they had been since midway through the first half, trailing by just 5 with 8:52 to play.  Northwestern answered with a 5-0 run to go back up by 10, leading 52-42 at the under 8 media timeout and time running out on Ohio State.  The 5-0 Northwestern run quickly went to 10-0 as Ohio State once again struggled to find any offense, trailing by 15 with just under 6 to go.  A quick 4-0 Buckeye run cut the deficit to 11 but with just 4:46 to go and Northwestern calling a timeout.

There are bad losses and there are games like this.  The Buckeyes clearly have no answers on the offensive end without Kaleb Wesson.  The suspension, sadly, probably cost this team an opportunity at the NCAA tournament.  This was a game they absolutely had to have but struggled to find any rhythm on offense against a Northwestern team that was by far the worst in the conference and hadn’t won since beating Indiana at home on January 22nd.  There’s zero excuse for a performance like this one but it’s a sad but true tale and where we are with this basketball team unfortunately.  The Buckeyes face an absolute must win game on senior night at home on Sunday if they want any prayer of sneaking into the field of 68 and whether they will be with the services of Kaleb Wesson remains to be seen.

Ohio State finishes the regular season on Sunday, hosting the 21st ranked Wisconsin Badgers at 4:30 on CBS.

-Jason Harris


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