Buckeyes Drop to 1-2 in B1G After 1-Point Loss To Wildcats

Ohio State traveled to Evanston hoping to pick up their first conference road win of the season but came up short in a 71-70 loss to a much improved Wildcats team. Northwestern (6-1,3-0) were led in scoring by Miller Kopp who put in 23 points.  The Wildcats are 3-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1967-68 season. EJ Lidell, coming of a career high 21 points against Rutgers, led OSU in scoring once again with 15.  Kyle Young had another very solid performance adding 14 points of his own and 8 rebounds. Greatly missed was scoring contributions from Duane Washington Jr, who was only 1-9 from the floor, and missing a lay-up with two seconds to go which would have put the Buckeyes ahead.

Northwestern is normally a middle-of-the-pack team in talent rich Big Ten conference but usually fields a solid team.  This year is no different as they come into this game just a 1 one-point loss to Pitt from having a perfect record and already having wins in the conference over Michigan State and Indiana.

Wildcats got the opening tip but came up empty, Kyle Young gets the soft hook in the paint on the other end to open scoring. A couple of quick fouls called on EJ Lidell and CJ Walker but Northwestern comes up empty missing their first 4 shots from the field.  Meanwhile for the Buckeye offense, EJ Lidell adds a basket, and Justice Sueing gets third and OSU is 3-3 from the field. Northwestern has to call a quick time out. Out of the time out, CJ Walker makes his 10-foot jumper for the 8-0 lead. At the 16:20 mark, Miller Kopp finally stops the bleeding by hitting a three for the first points for Northwestern making it 8-3 Buckeyes.

At 15:13 on the clock, it was 10-5 Buckeyes at first media timeout. Northwestern was 2-8 from the floor, 0-2 from the line, but that would not last long.  Northwestern goes on 11-0 run to get a 14-10 lead.  10 of the 12 points were scored by Kopp, Buckeyes went over three minutes without a field goal. Duane Washington gets the cap of the bucket and brings it to 14-12 with a couple of buckets from the charity stripe, unfortunately that would prove to be his only points of the first half. Following that score, EJ Lidell hits a 12 jumper to tie the game at 14 a piece which is the score at the second media time out at 11:36.

After that, the Buckeyes started to get back into a scoring mood, as Seth Towns comes off the bench and gets the scarlet and gray their first 3 of the afternoon and an 18-16 lead. Also off the bench, Eugene Brown III added a bucket before Towns nailed his second three, making it 23-22 Ohio State.  Coach Holtmann calls a time out ahead of the media stop to settle the Buckeyes. On a positive note, Ohio State has scoring from 7 different players, but they had committed 4 turnovers and only had 5 assists compared to 9 for Wildcats.

Musa Jallow drives for score to make it 25-24 OSU and giving the Buckeyes their 8th scorer. CJ Walker also added a basket of his own and the two teams started going back and forth. The game was 27-26 Ohio State at the final first half media time out.  It was a typical Big Ten game, very physical, and very few foul calls. The refs were letting them play, only 4 fouls had been whistled on the ‘Cats. The half comes to a close with no drop in that intensity, and a one man show for Northwestern on the form of Miller Kopp. The Wildcats had 7 players with 2 points each at this time and Kopp with 12 points himself. As the half closed, it was fitting that it was 34-34 after the first 20 minutes.

The key observations for the Buckeyes at the half included the fact that they had no points off turnovers where Northwestern had 16. That was mostly because OSU had 8 turnovers in the first half, where they have been averaging 9 a game. The other big point was Duane Washington Jr was held to no field goals and just 2 free throws for two points.  

Northwestern scores on the opening possession, but Washington finally gets his first bucket to give OSU the lead at 37-36. Justice Sueing gets a runner to extend the lead to 39-36. At this point, if the Buckeyes could create a little separation, maybe they could put this away. But the Wildcats to their credit, did not go away, mostly due to the scoring from Kopp. Just after the first media time out, Kyle Young gets a pass from out of bounds, taps it in for a bucket and a foul. After finishing the old fashion three pointer to give the Buckeyes some breathing room at 47-41. But this is not your parent’s Northwestern.

The Wildcats stayed with their game plan, continued to be patient with plenty of ball movement, and Miller Kopp keeps scoring. For the Buckeyes they were a little bit more balanced, after the first 8 minutes of the second half, OSU had 30 points from starters, and 20 points from the bench. Another big development was at the 11:37 mark, picked up their 7th foul. The rest of the way, the Buckeyes would be in the Bonus.    

Musa Jallow picked up bucket just under 11 minutes to make it 54-50 but a Seth Towns foul on the other end of the floor and Ty Berry nails three free throws, and the home team is within one at 54-53. Then EJ Lidell with very strong drive to the with a bucket, then a turnover to transition, an assist from Washington to CJ Walker and it is 58-53. This forces Chris Collins to call another Wildcat timeout with 9:30 remaining. Northwestern orchestrates a quick drive and goal tend call and it is 58-55, EJ takes over on other side and drives the lane for two more points 60-55. Then A left handed jump hook for Young makes it 62:55 in favor of Ohio State, taking it to the TV time out 7:40.

Out of the break, Pete Nance gives Northwestern a much needed basket, but hen EJ Lidell gets a fourth foul call on Robbie Beran, hits the free throws making it 64-57 OSU. After a defensive stop it appears OSU can start to work the clock but Lidell gets caught in a travel against the double team. From there Northwestern, narrows the gap to 64-61, forcing Coach Holtmann to call his second time out. At this point both teams are 25-54 from the field, showing just how close the game is being played.

Out of time out EJ Lidell hits from 17 feet out to make it 66-61. But Miller Kopp draws a foul, gets the game to 66-63 at the line. Then a runner on the next trip closes it to 66-65. Chase Audige hits a three and Northwestern has first lead of second half with 1:41. Holtmann forced to call third time out. Kyle Young gets a soft hook out of time out to tie it but Boo Buie hits long three to go up 71-68. Young gets offensive board, Beran fouls out, Young nails both free throws.

The Buckeyes get the stop they needed on the final Northwestern possession as Miller Kropp misses with 16 seconds remaining and OSU gets the rebound, Washington brings the ball up the floor and calls their final time out with 12 seconds to go. Out of the time out, Ohio State draws up the play for Washington, EJ Lidell screened out three Wildcats but Duane misses the open layup. Lidell gets the offensive board but loses the ball and is forced to foul, ending the game 71-70.

The Buckeyes next hit the hardwood December 30th taking on Nebraska.  The Cornhuskers (4-5, 0-2) will travel to Columbus for a 12:30pm tip on BTN.  

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