Ohio State came in 33-2 and winners of 13 straight versus Northwestern when nationally ranked. So you had to like the chances of the nation’s #10 team in Evanston. When you saw them make their first six shots and jump out to a 69% to 35% field goal average (nearly double) about halfway through the first half, I’m sure you liked their chances even more.
Give Northwestern (17-12, 7-10) credit though, they did keep fighting, and they fought hard to nearly force overtime in the final seconds.
They just took too long to get going. John Shurna didn’t get his first basket until 8:30 left in the half — a spinning turnaround bank shot, and the team itself didn’t grab a defensive rebound until around the 11 minute mark. Maybe if the game was 5 minutes longer, NU would have won.
At halftime, Ohio State (24-6, 12-5) was out-rebounding Northwestern 22-5, and out-shooting them 59% to 42%, so to only be up 10 at that point, was a sign that the door was still open. And the Cats walked through that door when Alex Marcotullio tied the game at 73 on a deep three with 7.7 seconds left to play.
However, Ohio State was just too big and strong and powerful. And Sullinger scored the go ahead put-back four seconds later.
In describing the shot, Sullinger noted, “[Aaron] Craft threw a perfect pass to me and led me right to the angle of the backboard. He let me turn over my left shoulder and finish with my right hook. The bread and butter.”
Shurna’s potentially game-winning half court heave, just missed- hitting the front of the rim. They out-rebounded the ‘Cats 44-18 and relied on the inside game while Northwestern took 27 threes, making 13.
“Just disappointed, kind of a tough way to go out,” Shurna said about losing on senior night.
John Shurna and Drew Crawford finished with 45 of Northwestern‘s 73 points. Sullinger lead the way with 22 points and 18 rebounds; yes that second number was equal to Northwestern’s entire team total. Deshaun Thomas had 19 and 10, and a HUGE three at around the 3 minute mark that stifled NU momentum.
So the million dollar question about NU’s tourney chances?
“I think we’re a good team. Certainly, a loss doesn’t solidify (tournament chances),” Bill Carmody said.
“I would hate on Selection Sunday, to learn that we have to play them,” Matta said post-game.
Hear audio from Thad Matta, along with NU coach Bill Carmody, and his players John Shurna, Drew Crawford
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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Tags: aaron craft, Buckeyes, buckeyes basketball, buckeyes hoops, deshaun thomas, jared sullinger, jared sullinger buckeyes, jared sullinger ohio state, john shurna, Northwestern, northwestern basketball, ohio st hoops, Ohio State, ohio state basketball, ohio state beats northwestern, Ohio State Buckeyes, Thad Matta