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.
Riding a two game win streak, including last Sunday’s great win over the Spartans, the Buckeyes are now facing what may or may not be an extremely dangerous test – the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, Illinois. The pretty kitties have a tendency to play tenacious basketball at home, and the Bucks haven’t always done so well against the Princeton Offense, but the sheer quantity of injuries to the ‘Cats might make it difficult for them.
Today’s game is scheduled for 7 PM EST on the Big Ten Network. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
The Buckeyes got all they could handle this evening against a wounded but surprisingly game Wildcats team. Ultimately the foul situation for their front court, and the talent of the Buckeyes, spelled doom for Northwestern who fell by a final of 69-59. DeShaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 22 points, and was joined in double figures by Lenzelle Smith (12), Sam Thompson (11), and Amir Williams (10). Northwestern also saw four players break double figures tonight, including Tre Demps (16), Kale Abrahamson (13), Reggie Hearn (12), and Dave Sobolewski (10).
Northwestern was capable of dressing only 9 players for this game due to the large number of injuries they’ve sustained this season. Most recently was the loss of Jared Swopshire which was expected to hurt the Wildcat’s scoring. That was not evident in the first few minutes of the game as OSU struggled to play with energy, particularly on the interior. OSU eventually managed to counter by finding success with Lenzelle Smith shooting the ball, and running Trey McDonald on the interior to try to ignite some intensity. Williams did come back into the game and was able to make his presence felt towards the end, but it wasn’t enough with the Wildcats raining in the three pointers with ease.
Thad Matta came out of the half with a strategy to attack Northwestern’s young front court which seemed to work initially. Northwestern responded by eliminating the easy passing lanes and forcing bad turnovers when the Bucks did try to enter the paint. The Wildcats weren’t able to consistently capitalize due to the Buckeyes finally entering desperation mode on defense, which kept the game well within striking distance despite the poor offense. OSU was finally able to turn things around, but at such a late stage in the game that there was no way to avoid a tight battle. By the end, Bill Carmody began to have serious trouble with the foul situation in his front court leaving him with few experienced options in a critical junction of a tight ballgame.
There’s only one thing to take away from this game as a fan – this is further proof of just how tough the Big Ten is this year. Northwestern came into a hostile environment with very few scholarship players left and gave it to the Buckeyes for the better part of 40 minutes of play. Carmody is simply a fantastic basketball coach and his players give him everything they have on a regular basis.
The team can take a lot from this moving forward. There are plenty of places they need to work on, but they were able to dig deep and gut out a tough win. It’s a lot easier to learn from a tough win than an ugly loss.
The Buckeyes are coming off consecutive losses to top competition in the B1G. Next up are Bill Carmody’s Northwestern Wildcats.
Today’s game is scheduled for 7 PM EST on the CBS. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
|Student Population:||19,184 total, 8,425 undergrad|
|Opened:||1952, renovated 1983|
|Head Coach:||Bill Carmody|
|Experience:||11th year at NU|
The Northwestern Wildcats played host this evening for a battle with the Ohio State Buckeyes, and gave the Buckeyes everything they could handle and some. Jared Sullinger put down the last second layup off an excellent Aaron Craft pass to win the game. Sullinger finished the game with another double double with 22 points and 18 rebounds, more in line with what he is capable of doing every night. DeShaun Thomas also secured a double double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Craft scored 14, and Lenzelle Smith put down 12. Drew Crawford of Northwestern led all scorers with 23 points, closely followed by John Shurna’s 22.
Despite discussions about the possibility of starting lineup changes to try to kick-start the Buckeyes better, Ohio State came out with their standard opening five. Matta clearly trusts his guys to get the job done, so we will just have to see if these guys can make the changes necessary to play elite basketball again. While we saw some steps in the right direction tonight, they have yet to demonstrate that they can close out a game – especially after grabbing a big lead.
Surprisingly, the Buckeyes came out strong in this one. Lenzelle Smith started things off on the right foot with a pair of baskets to go along with a trip to the charity stripe. Jared Sullinger also managed an early trip to the line, indicated that the Buckeyes were attacking the basket early. In so doing, they managed to open up a couple of long jumpers for Craft, who drained a three and an 18 footer from the left wing.
Northwestern wasn’t going to take it lying down. The Cats used a nice Drew Crawford dribble drive early to get the Buckeyes focused on defending the lane. Crawford was then able to use the collapsing defense to find open shooters on the outside. The strategy enabled Northwestern to hit three of their first six treys, and kept the game closer than it otherwise would have been with the Buckeyes playing such motivated basketball.
It’s time to wake up and pay attention. March is just around the corner, and the Buckeyes have two regular season games left. Tonight’s matchup? The Bucks take on the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, IL.
While you wait, go checkout our friends in the Buckeye Bloggers Network! the Buckeye Blog, OSU Silver Bullet, Buckeye House Call, Our Honor Defend, and Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Fox Sports Ohio also joins us as usual. The liveblog will kickoff at 8:00 PM EST.
The Northwestern Wildcats are playing host to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Wednesday evening for the second to last game of the regular season. Bill Carmody’s team is standing at 17-11 for the season, and 7-9 in the Big Ten – good for 7th overall in conference. Over their last six meetings the Buckeyes lead 5-1, including an overtime battle in the Big Ten tournament last year. The last Northwestern victory occurred in Evanston on February 18th, 2009 by a score of 72-69.
Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament in the history of their program. During the 2009-2010 campaign, the Wildcats put together a 20 win season that should have been enough to earn them their first bid. Surprisingly, they were denied entry and relegated to the NIT for the second year running. They again missed the tournament last season with a slightly less impressive 18 win season, but they were at least in the conversation.
The Wildcats find themselves in the conversation again this year. Sitting at 17 wins with two games left on the schedule, there is an outside chance that the ‘Cats could play their way into the tournament. Not surprisingly, many in the Big Ten find themselves rooting for Northwestern to make it into the field of 68 – though, of course, not at the expense of their own teams.
A lot of their recent success, and the reason that they’re consistently making post-season play, has to do with how Bill Carmody has them playing in Evanston. The Wildcats have been an incredibly difficult team to beat at home during the last few seasons, making Welsh-Ryan Arena a surprising intimidating building. You may recall last season when the Buckeyes, in their only meeting with Northwestern, escaped with a 58-57 victory after Northwestern missed a desperation half-court heave at the buzzer. That trend has continued into this season as a number of teams will attest.