New lineup Chris Collins went with Bryant McIntosh, Tre Demps, JerShon Cobb, Scottie Lindsey and Alex Olah. This was Lindsey's first career start.
Fast start Northwestern got off to its best start this year by far. The Wildcats went up 8-0, scoring on its first four possessions. Alex Olah was getting the ball in good post position, and he also added in two jumpers. The ball movement was crisp and the defense and defensive rebounding was sound. Northwestern extended its lead to 21-10 at one point, with Jeremiah Kreisburg and Dave Sobolewski contributing nicely. It was good basketball and really fun to watch. Less than nine minutes in, seven Wildcats had scored.
The run Ohio State went on an absolute tear after their abysmal start. The Buckeyes finished the half on a 28-11 run, including a 14-2 run after that initial 21-10 deficit in which Northwestern went over seven minutes and scored just two points. Despite the rough start, the visitors still managed to shoot 51.3% in the first half.
D'Angelo Russell is really REALLY good The 6'5" point guard basically kept Ohio State afloat in the beginning and then terrorized the Wildcats for the rest of the game. His release is ridiculously quick, and it was tough for Northwestern to matchup. At first the hosts used McIntosh, Demps, Cobb and Lindsey on him, but as the game progressed, it really didn't matter who was guarding him. He was absolutely on fire, and he dominated all night.
Alex Olah was really good when he wanted to be. When Northwestern is at its best, Olah is getting the ball in the post and scoring, snagging rebounds, and providing good interior defense. But at times, Olah doesn't demand the ball in the post, and the offense becomes stagnant. It was a good showing for the 7-footer (16 points, 5 rebounds). He should still demand the ball more often.
Vic Law's offensive game is really a work in progress right now, but his presence on the boards is irreplaceable. He has good timing and positioning, and his jumping ability is incredible. His shooting percentage doesn't warrant the minutes he plays, but his rebounding ability certainly does.
In the end this was one of Northwestern's best efforts this year. In front of a national audience, the Welsh-Ryan crowd came alive. A few bounces here or there and two missed goaltending calls really hurt the Cats. In the end, D'Angelo Russell is basically the lone reason why Ohio State won. Northwestern competed and played hard and well, but when one player dominates a game the way Russell did, it is really tough to win. One has to think that these close games will surely help Northwestern in the future. Overall, another encouraging step for Northwestern.