Ohio State Opens 2023 Blasting Northwestern in Evanston

The Ohio State basketball Buckeyes controlled the game from the jump, never trailing, building a lead as large as 26 in the first half and cruising to a 73-57 road win to improve to 10-3 and 2-0 in the Big Ten. The loss snapped a 5 game Northwestern winning streak and dropped the Wildcats to 10-3 and 1-1 in conference play. The Buckeyes shot it at a 46% clip, holding Northwestern to just 28%, many of the makes coming late in scramble time as Ohio State brought the defensive intensity on this night. Brice Sensabaugh led all scores with 18 points and 8 rebounds, while Sean McNeil added 15 on 5 of 8 shooting, 3 of 5 from deep. Justice Sueing chipped in 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, and Zed Key added 11 points and 11 rebounds, for his 5th double double of the year. 

The Buckeyes opened up to an 8-3 early lead thanks to 6 from Justice Sueing and a pair from Bruce Thornton with the only bucket for the ‘Cats coming on a long transition three as Northwestern started 1 of 8 shooting. Great ball movement led to back to back triples out of the timeout by Tanner Holden and Sean McNeil which upped the Buckeye advantage to 11. Northwestern got back on the board with another triple but back to back buckets by McNeil and Brice Sensabaugh had the Buckeyes ahead 18-6 at the under 12 timeout. A pair of Zed Key free throws broke a 3 ½ minute scoring drought for both teams. On the next possession Key took a perimeter feed from McNeil at the left block and scored off the glass before Northwestern finally got a short jumper to drop, breaking a near 6 minute scoring drought. Sueing answered the Wildcat hoop, tipping in his own miss and at the under 8 media break, Ohio State led 24-8. The Buckeyes kept it rolling out of the break as McNeil drilled a long three from the left point and after a Wildcat turnover, Thornton found Gene Brown on the baseline who flushed down a dunk forcing Northwestern to call timeout with Ohio State on a 7-0 run and now leading 29-8. Out of the timeout and following a Key rejection, McNeil hit a floater mid-paint and after another Wildcat turnover, Sueing split a pair of freebies. Two more Sueing free throws increased the run to 12-0, before a long Cat jumper fell to end the run and at the under 4 media timeout, Ohio State was firmly in control, leading 34-10. A Wildcat three in transition off a Buckeye miss forced Chris Holtmann to call a quick timeout as the Buckeyes had missed their last four shot attempts. A flop technical on Northwestern led to a McNeil free throw ending the short Buckeye scoring drought. After a pair of Buckeye misses, Northwestern scored on back to back trips to trim the lead to 18 at the half and ending the half on a 9-1 run. Despite missing their last 7 shot attempts and scoring just 1 point in the final 4:20, the Buckeyes led 35-17. The Buckeyes finished the half shooting 42% from the floor, while holding Northwestern to just 21%, including 3 of 14 from deep. The Buckeyes held a rebounding edge, leading 26-20 in that category. Sean McNeil and Justice Sueing led all scorers with 11 each, while Zed Key added 4 points and 6 rebounds for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes opened up a 48-18 lead with a 11-1 run to open the second twenty minutes. Five Sensabaugh points and four from McNeil keyed the half opening burst in the first four minutes. Out of the timeout, a pair of Buckeye turnovers triggered a 5-0 ‘Cat run before Sensabaugh tipped in his own miss to slow the Northwestern momentum.  A Sueing dribble drive and lob to Key for a dunk continued the Buckeye dominance. A 6-2 Northwestern burst preceded the under 12 media timeout with Ohio State leading 52-29 with 11:46 left in the game. Both teams struggled from the floor over the next 4 minutes, with Ohio State missing 6 of 7 and Northwestern missing 8 of 9 and at the under 8 minute media timeout, the Buckeyes led 56-32. A 15-7 Northwestern burst cut the lead to 16 and forced Ohio State to call timeout with 4:19 to play as suddenly the Wildcats were clamping down in the halfcourt and 3 triples on the offensive end got them a little closer. 5 of the Buckeyes 7 points during the Wildcat run came from Tanner Holden as Northwestern had hit 5 of their last 6 from the field. Out of the timeout, Northwestern got a little closer, hitting a 15 foot jumper, but Sensabaugh dropped a mid range J and a triple from the left wing on the next possession to fend off the run and ultimately bury Northwestern’s ideas of a big comeback. Key split a pair of free throws to increase the lead back to 20, but a Wildcat triple dropped on the other end to cut the lead to 17 but time was running out. Two Thornton free throws was followed by another Wildcat triple as Northwestern was heating up, but too little too late as there was just over a minute to play. Sensabaugh buried a short jumper that was followed by a 15 footer on the other end by the Cats to complete the scoring and a big road win for the Buckeyes. 

Facing the 3rd ranked defense in the country, Ohio State had moments where they struggled offensively, but overall played a very efficient game. Defensively, they were locked in from the tip, utilizing their length and athleticism to make things extremely difficult for Northwestern to get anything going for much of the game. The Buckeyes defensive rotations and post activity disrupted anything Northwestern wanted to do in the half court, forcing Northwestern’s leading scorers Boo Buie and Chase Audige to shoot just 9 of 32 and frustrated them all night long, keeping them out of rhythm for the majority of the basketball game. The Buckeyes were really active on the offensive end, attacking the rim with the length of both Sueing and Sensabaugh’s ability to put the ball on the floor and get into the paint and were once again very efficient sharing the basketball, assisting on 15 of 26 made field goals. It was quite possibly the most complete game they have played all year against a very difficult team to play in their building. Chris Holtmann reflected on the game saying, “It was as good as a defensive game we have played in several years.” A great start to the 19 game Big Ten grind and they now sit as one of just 3 unbeatens in conference play as they will now prepare to host one of those unbeatens on Thursday night, welcoming #1 Purdue to the Schott, so it will be a big one. They will enjoy this one and get back to work this week to prepare for what will be a big opportunity at home.

Ohio State returns home for its next matchup, hosting #1 Purdue in the Schott On Thursday night.  Tip time is scheduled for 7 PM, airing on FS1.

-Jason Harris

Leave a Reply