Behind 14 points and 10 rebounds from senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated theNorthwestern Wildcats 76-60 to improve their record to 8-6 in the Big Ten. The big story from the blowout win was that of LaQuinton Ross, however.
With 5:24 to play and the Buckeyes leading 66-50, Lenzelle Smith Jr. drove to the lane and missed a floating lay-up. During the rebounding action, Ohio State center Amir Williams and Northwestern forward Nikola Cerina locked arms and got into a bit of a scuffle underneath the hoop. Buckeye forward LaQuinton Ross rushed to the aide of his teammate and shoved Cerina right in the back. He proceeded to shove Northwestern's leading scorer Drew Crawford.
After what seemed like an eternity, the referees subsequently ejected Cerina and Ross for their part in the altercation. In a game where Ohio State controlled much of the action, Ross put he and his team in jeopardy. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Ross will not be suspended for Ohio State's next game against Minnesota. The Buckeyes could not have afforded to play any extended period of time without its best scorer.
Ross' 13 points in the first half sparked Ohio State late in the first half when they trailed Northwestern 28-21. Ross scored seven straight on his own, nailing a deep three-pointer and scoring on a strong drive to the rim to tie the game. He finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds, but probably could have used better judgment when he decided to step in on behalf of Amir Williams.
The Buckeyes ended the first half on a 16-5 run to give themselves a four-point halftime lead, and began the second half just as hot. Junior forward Sam Thompson nailed his second three-pointer of the game as the Buckeyes opened the second frame with a quick 9-0 run.
Thompson hit three from long distance and finished with 11 points on 4/5 shooting from the field. Since entering the starting lineup, Thompson has made a huge impact on Ohio State's athleticism and energy on both ends of the court.
Head coach Thad Matta was very pleased with Thompson's confidence against Northwestern.
"Tonight he was was ready to shoot the basketball on the catch," said Matta in his post game presser.
It seemed like every time Ohio State would try to pull away, Drew Crawford would reel the Buckeyes back in with his tremendous shooting on Wednesday. Crawford struggled mightily in his previous game against Minnesota, shooting just 1-15 from the floor. He came out smoldering against the Buckeyes with 13 first half points. Crawford finished with 22 points including four three-point field goals in a losing effort.
Ohio State senior guard Aaron Craft had another stat sheet stuffer performance. At the 7:01 mark of the first half, Craft passed Buckeye legend John Havlicek on the Buckeyes' all-time scoring list and now stands at No. 32 all-time. He finished the game with 14 points, four steals, and three assists.
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