(Image courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)
Ohio State (19-9, 7-8) ended their two game losing streak with a second half surge to beat Northwestern (12-14, 3-12), 63-49. If you got past the first half, congratulations, because it was ugly basketball. Ohio State held the lead 24-20, while both teams combined for 33% (16/48) shooting and 14 turnovers.
Through the first five minutes, Northwestern led 3-2. The Wildcats were 1-6 from the field with 2 turnovers. Ohio State was 1-7 with surprisingly no turnovers. D-Wash, Jr finally got Ohio State into double digits with a 3-pointer at the 10:53 mark. Five minutes later, N’western got to double digits with a 3-pointer from Anthony Gaines. The only scoring in the final two minutes of the half were 2 free throws by Kaleb Wesson and 2 FG’s by N’western’s Ryan Taylor and Vic Law to close the half with Ohio State holding a 24-20 lead.
Both teams were offensively, much more functional to start the second half. At the midpoint, Ohio State had outscored N’western 18-17 to hold a 42-38 lead. A dunk by Kaleb at the 7:07 mark gave Ohio State a 54-40 lead, and honestly, that was the game-ender.
The Buckeyes had just one player, Kaleb Wesson, in double figures, but what a night he had. He led the team in points (22), rebounds (8) and assists (4). That is quite the stat line. The Wildcats also had one player in double figures. Vic Law had 10 points. Dererk Pardon had a game high 9 rebounds and Law, Pardon and Barret Benson had 2 assists each.
For the game, Ohio State shot 46% from the field (25-54), 20% (4-20) from 3-point range and 90% (9-10) from the foul line. You’ll notice that Ohio State had quite a few field goal attempts. They had only 8 turnovers. Funny how that works.
Northwestern shot 32% (18-57) from the field, 17% (5-29) from 3-point range and 67% (8-12) from the foul line.
What Went Right
The entire second half. The team seemed to have a lot more energy and focus. They were cutting to the ball, setting up good angles for entrance passes and were more confident in their shooting. The energy also carried over to their defense, limiting to N’western to 29 points on 33% shooting.
Ball handling was much improved. They had 18 assists, thanks to heads-up, aggressive basketball. They had only 8 turnovers, a rate about half of previous games.
Three-point shooting continues to be an issue, but it was muted because Northwestern was so poor offensively. Aside from first half play in general, the offensive rebounding in the first half was more accidental than intentional. Of 13 missed FG’, Ohio State had only 2 ORs. Ohio State’s two offensive rebounds led to a dunk by Kaleb and a put-back by Kyle.
- Ohio State won this game “in the paint”. Not with brute force but with timely cutting to the basket and ball handlers anticipating these cuts to feed the ball for easy layups. They outscored N’western 40-22 “in the paint”.
- Sticking with offensive rebounding and an efficient offense for a minute; the Magic Number was 17/25. Ohio State made 17 of 25 layup attempts. Layups accounted for 17 of 25 field goals made.
- This was the best that Kaleb has looked in several games, as evidenced by his box score.`He had only one personal foul and it seemed to free him up in his play, rather than playing defensively.
- According to teamrankings.com, the Buckeyes are projected to finish the regular season 19-12 and 9-11 in B1G play. They rank Ohio State as the 35th best team in the country and #7 in the B1G. Their chance to make the NCAA’s is 26%.
The Buckeyes visit Maryland for a Saturday afternoon 2:00 PM (Eastern Time) game vs the Terrapins. In previous meeting this season, January 18th, Maryland won 61-75 in Columbus. You can watch the game on ESPN or listen to it on 97.1 The Fan. Or both.
The Terrapins (20-7, 11-5) average 71 points per game while allowing 65 ppg. They average 40 rebounds and 13 turnovers per game. For comparison, the Buckeyes are scoring 73 and allowing 65 points per game. Ohio State averages 35 rebounds and 13 turnovers per game. Maryland is currently 4th in the B1G, Ohio State is T-7th with Minnesota. Teamrankings.com’s power ratings give Ohio State a 27% chance to win this game. I’d like to see them proved wrong.
Maryland has three players that average double figures scoring per game. They are 6’0″ G Anthony Cowan Jr, (15.8), 6’10” F Fernando Bruno (14.5) and 6’10” F Jalen Smith (11.8). Bruno averages 10.6 rebounds per game and Cowan Jr averages 4.5 assists per game.