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Ohio State suffers ugly loss to Northwestern, 68-50

The Buckeyes shot incredibly poor as they lost to the Big Ten bottom-dwelling Wildcats

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Northwestern Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State (18-12, 9-11) was unable to find an offense against Northwestern (13-17, 4-15), falling 68-50 on the road. Without Kaleb Wesson, still serving a suspension for a violation of team rules, the Buckeyes looked lost for the majority of the game, lacking any kind of scoring threat or interior defense as they came up short against a Wildcats team that had lost 10 straight Big Ten contests coming into the night.

The Bucks struggled throughout the entire game, shooting a paltry 27 percent (17-of-64) from the floor and just 4-of-26 from deep. Keyshawn Woods and Duane Washington were the only Ohio State players to reach double figures, recording 15 and 11, respectively. After his heroic 29-point performance against Iowa, Justin Ahrens shot 1-of-7 against Northwestern, scoring only three points. Andre Wesson was 0-of-8.

The Wildcats were led by Derek Pardon, who dropped 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor with 13 rebounds. Pardon absolutely bullied the Kaleb Wesson-less Buckeyes inside in the second half, scoring 18 of his 20 points in the period and making all seven of his shot attempts. Vic Law and A.J. Turner each added 10 points of their own as Northwestern broke its 10-game losing streak in blowout fashion.

After an impressive win over the Hawkeyes, it looked as though Ohio State had secured their spot in the NCAA Tournament. However, after back-to-back crushing losses against Purdue and Northwestern, that reality is now very much in doubt. If the Buckeyes are unable to defeat Wisconsin and/or secure at least one victory in the Big Ten tournament, it would be hard to see this OSU team making the big dance.

The Buckeyes’ final game of the regular season, a home tilt against the No. 21 Badgers, will take place this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. EST.

The Wildcats won the opening tip as things got underway at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Vic Law broke open the scoring right away by nailing a two-point jumper as Northwestern took the initial lead of the game. Following an airball by Andre Wesson, the Wildcats added to their lead with a Dererk Pardon layup. The Buckeyes could not get the lid off the basket early on, starting off 0-of-7 from the field as Anthony Gaines added to the NU lead with a pair of free throws.

Ohio State finally cracked the scoreboard on a pair of free throws from Wesson, going 2-of-3 at the line after being fouled from behind the arc at the 16:15 mark of the first period. Law got a steal and a fast break basket out of the first media timeout as the Buckeyes turned the ball over on three straight possessions. Both teams were incredibly cold from the field, but Gaines would get the next jumper to fall at the 12:44 mark as OSU trailed 10-2.

As this battle of mediocracy continued, the Buckeyes headed into the second media timeout now 0-of-12 from the field. Northwestern wasn’t lighting the floor on fire themselves, hitting on 4-of-11. Both teams were a combined 0-of-6 from three point land and neither team had yet registered an assist, now over eight minutes into the opening period.

The Wildcats added two more points out of the timeout on free throws by Ryan Greer. Ohio State followed it up with their first made shot of the game as C.J. Jackson got a layup to fall. Duane Washington Jr. nailed a pair of free throws on the next possession as despite shooting seven (7!!) percent as a team, the Buckeyes trailed by just six points halfway through the first half.

Justin Ahrens got in on the scoring with his first make of the game, a three-pointer to cut the Northwestern lead to four. A.J. Turner answered at the other end with a deep-ball of his own, and after another bucket by Law a few possessions later the Wildcats had their largest lead of the night, 19-10 with 6:11 to go in the period.

NU extended their lead on yet another make by Law, who was now 4-of-4 from the field, as a 7-0 run from Northwestern forced Ohio State to take a timeout. The Buckeyes got one back as Woods hit 1-of-2 at the charity stripe, but Barrett Benson responded with a dunk at the other end. Woods got a contested runner to fall on the ensuing possession, but Benson again scored at the other end as the Wildcats led 25-13 wit 2:51 to go until halftime.

Woods continued to keep OSU alive with another jumper, but Northwestern again had an answer, this time a layup by Turner. Woods hit a pair at the line on the next possession, scoring the team’s last seven points, followed by two free throws from NU’s Pete Nance. Fittingly, Washington air-balled a three to close out the period as Ohio State went into halftime trailing 28-17.

The Buckeyes were lucky to be down just 11 at the break, hitting only four shots in 27 attempts through the game’s first 20 minutes. Woods led the team with eight points while also having the team’s only assist. Law led the Wildcats with eight of his own to go along with two rebounds. The lone bright spot for Ohio State was the ability to cause some foul trouble, as five different Wildcats had two personal fouls at the half. Wesson, Washington, and Luther Muhammad were a combined 0-for-11 in the period.

As we resumed this absolute barnburner of a basketball game, Northwestern got back on the board first as Ryan Taylor drilled a three. Muhammad scored his first points of the game on the ensuing Buckeye possession, going 3-of-3 at the line after being fouled from beyond the arc. After a dunk by Pardon at the other end, Kyle Young answered with an and-one dunk on the other end as OSU trailed 33-23 with over 18 minute remaining.

Following a nice hustle play by Muhammad to secure an offensive board, Woods knocked down his first three-pointer of the game as Ohio State cut the lead to single digits. Turner got two back on a jumper on Northwestern’s next possession, and after two Pardon free throws the NU lead was back to 11. The Buckeyes continued to hang around as a fast break layup by Washington had OSU down 37-28 with under 13 minutes to go.

The two teams began to trade baskets as both offenses started finally knocking down their shots, highlighted by Jackson and Greer matching three-pointers. Another layup from Kyle Young cut the Wildcats lead to eight, but Law got it back to double digits with his fifth make of the game. Both squads continued to match shots before back-to-back makes from Woods and Washington cut the NU lead to 47-42 with just under nine minutes remaining.

Ohio State’s defense faltered a bit, and after a couple transition jumpers, capped by a three-ball from Turner, Northwestern once again led by 10. The Buckeye offense then returned to their first period ways, not scoring for a stretch of over three minutes. Makes by Jackson and Washington kept the Bucks alive, but with 4:46 remaining in the game, Ohio State still trailed 57-46.

The Buckeyes continued to hang around, but they were unable to get the defensive stops necessary to cut into the deficit. After an offensive rebound and layup inside by Pardon, Ohio State now trailed 63-48, and despite a made jumper from Jackson, began to look defeated. As the two teams played out the final two minutes, it was Northwestern coming away with a double-digit victory.