Wildcats Tamed As OSU Improves to 7-0 in League Play
January 17, 2018
The surprising men’s basketball Buckeyes continued their hot start to 2018, winning their 6th consecutive game, topping Northwestern in Chicago, 71-65. The Buckeyes struggled early shooting the basketball, but as they say, defense travels, and it proved true once again as the Buckeyes utilized solid half court defense, forcing the ‘Cats to 29.6% shooting from deep on 8-27 shooting, many of those came late as the Wildcats attempted a furious comeback.
It was a struggle early to generate offense and Northwestern came out hot, hitting their first four shots and led by 4 early. It was back and forth for much of the first 10 minutes and the Buckeye defense went to work, limiting Northwestern to one shot on multiple possessions which led to a 10-0 Buckeye run, forcing Northwestern coach Chris Collins to call a timeout at the 6:46 mark of the first half. Coming out of the timeout, Coach Collins drew up a nice backdoor play along the baseline for Wildcat star Scottie Lindsay, who slammed it home, ending a 1-10 drought from the floor. The Buckeyes kept coming and after Andrew Dakich drilled a long 3 from the left point, the Buckeyes led by 11. Back to back turnovers late in the half enabled Northwestern to cut the lead to 4 but the Buckeyes didn’t panic and after a tip in from Micah Potter late in the half, Ohio State went into the locker room up 8. The Buckeyes did not shoot it particularly well in the first half, just 41.4% from the floor, but an 8-0 advantage in second chance opportunities was the difference.
The second half was all Buckeyes early as Kam Williams scored a quick 5 points and Ohio State stretched the lead to 11. The Buckeyes kept the pressure on and when Dakich hit a 3 from the left corner off a side inbounds play with just 5 seconds on the shot clock, Ohio State led by 13. On the ensuing possession, Keita Bates-Diop forced a Wildcat turnover and followed it up with a layup and the lead stretched to 15 forcing Northwestern to call a timeout with 12:55 remaining in the game. The ‘Cats would keep battling, cutting the lead to as close as 8, but each time Northwestern got a little momentum the Buckeyes would answer. That is until late. Northwestern turned up the pressure and Ohio State struggled to advance the basketball and after a long 3 by Vic Law following a Buckeye turnover with 1 minute to go, the lead was just 3. Northwestern would foul C.J. Jackson with 27 seconds remaining and he would calmly knock in both to make it a two possession game. Following a Northwestern miss from long range, Jackson was fouled again with 14 seconds remaining. He would hit the first and rebound his own miss and Ohio State would run out the clock securing the victory. 7 Buckeyes scored at least 6 points in a balanced attack. Micah Potter led Ohio State with 13, while Jae’Sean Tate and C.J. Jackson added 12 apiece. Keita Bates-Diop, in a rare off night, contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds for the winning Buckeyes.
Once again, any road win is a good one. They showed they can win when their star is not playing well and when the outside shot wasn’t falling as consistently. They won this game with stifling perimiter defense and patient offense, sharing the basketball and finding the open man. The one big glaring weakness showed up late and that is the ability to handle the basketball in pressure. Northwestern made it a ballgame late with heavy backcourt defense and the Buckeyes folded a bit. To their credit, they made the plays they had to and escaped with a big road win.
Ohio State will get back after it in a neutral site game, facing off against a talented but undermanned Minnesota team in Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday. Tip time is slated for high noon on the Big Ten Network.
- Jason Harris