Offense was probably going to be hard to come by in a matchup pitting Ohio State and Northwestern together. It was hard to expect much else as the Buckeyes came into the game tied for 217th in the country in points per game and the Wildcats came in at No. 291.
Sometimes, the stats are predictive, and the two teams slogged through an ugly first half before Ohio State pulled away with a burst of well-executed offense to win 63-49.
Kaleb Wesson stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocks to win the battle of the big men in Dererk Pardon’s homecoming. The Buckeyes also got 27 bench points.
Northwestern suffered its seventh straight loss in similar fashion — a complete lack of offense. Vic Law was the only Wildcat in double figures with 10 points. The Wildcats shot 18-of-57 from the field and 5-of-29 from three-point range as OSU vigorously defended the paint.
Things did not get off to an auspicious start. The two teams were a combined 2-for-15 from the field through the first five minutes of the game, and Northwestern didn’t get into double figures for nearly 15 minutes.
At one point, the Wildcats had more turnovers (six) than field goals made (five). The offense was cringe-worthy at best, and almost unbearable to watch at worst.
Law was a non-factor in the first period. He went into the locker room with three points on 1-for-3 shooting from the field. Pardon, drawing double teams, also struggled to get it going. A missed dunk summed up the first half for the big man.
The team had nowhere else to turn with its two main sources of offense unable to score. As a result, the team shot 29.2 percent from the field in the first.
Northwestern men's basketball's last three first halves:— Davis Rich (@DavisRich1) February 21, 2019
- 20 points @ Ohio State
- 23 points @ Nebraska
- 22 points vs. Rutgers
According to my calculations, that, uh, ain't it.
Northwestern double-teamed Wesson for much of the first half. That strategy seemed like it would be effective in the beginning of the game, but Wesson found ways to make an impact. He had nine points in the first half, and was able to find open teammates when the double team came.
Things opened up in the second half, mostly for Ohio State. The Buckeyes outpaced the Wildcats 39-29 over the game’s final 20 minutes, thanks in large part to a couple timely threes and a host of easy buckets inside.
Wesson got loose in the second half after Northwestern stopped doubling. He buried both Pardon and Barret Benson deep in the paint to get easy buckets on multiple occasions. Ohio State punished Northwestern inside all night, finishing with 40 points in the paint.
Northwestern got as close as three early in the second half, but the Buckeyes eventually wore the Wildcat defense down. Ohio State found consistent, high percentage looks throughout the second half and Northwestern couldn’t keep up. Wesson made a lay-up with 8:24 to go to push the OSU advantage to twelve and the game was effectively over.