After two intense, focused, well-played games against Minnesota and Michigan State, Ohio State went to Evanston for the return match against Northwestern. Despite being substantially undermanned, the game pretty much went as they usually do in Evanston. The Buckeyes took down the Wildcats 63-53. It was anything but easy, and everything you’ve come to expect when these teams play in Evanston. Lenzelle Smith led all scorers with 24 points while DeShaun Thomas scored 19 for the game. Northwestern saw only Tre Demps (14) and Dave Sobolewski (13) score in double digits for the game.
The Bucks squeaked out this win to get closer to a #4 seed in Big Ten Tourney. After exploding out of the gates, thanks to Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s 3-point deluge, the Buckeyes settled into some uninspired offense. After DeShaun Thomas got the show started with a field goal 17 seconds into the game, by the 17:00 mark, ‘Zelle was 3-3 from ‘3’. Halfway through the 1st half, OSU had a 20-10 lead. Things flattened out quite a bit as they only managed 9 more points and went into half 29-22.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes did manage to play some defense, limiting Northwestern to 7 field goals (35%), while committing 6 turnovers. This was a half of wasted opportunities; defense played reasonably well enough, but the offense hit stretches where it just stalled. For example, in the last four minutes of the half, OSU was 0-4 from the field.
The 2nd half started with aggressive play from the Wildcats as they got whistled for 4 fouls in just over a minute of play. They also found their range, making their first four FG’s and 2 Ft’s to pull with 2, 36-34. The 1st half offensive woes were solved for the moment. Meanwhile OSU went cold.
In the end, the Bucks managed to retake the lead with 3:50 to play on a trey by Smith. Then, similarly to the game in Columbus, OSU was able to gradually pull away for the final margin. The win moves the Buckeyes to 21-7, 11-5 for the season.
1. Ohio State won the game. More than other teams can claim in last day or two…
2. Lenzelle Smith, spectacular night. Started off hot, went flat, then got his range back.
3. Shannon Scott’s defense. Yes, he’s a Walking Adventure at the FT line, but his defense was solid.
4. As long as I’m on defense, OSU’s team defense; they had 10 steals and forced 15 turnovers. That’s a lot of empty possessions.
1. Shot selection: The team was very hesitant to attack the paint to take advantage of our size. Too much settling for quick, long range jumpers.
2. Finishing: Several easy lay-ups (Shannon? Evan?) went clank instead of in.
3. here were times where there was a seeming lack of focus. The Buckeyes barely got away with it tonight; cannot lose intensity in next two games.
The next game is Tuesday, March 5th at top ranked Indiana. Tip off is at 9:00PM EST. Please join us 15 minutes prior to air time for live chat.