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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern’s stifling defense fuels 83-58 blowout over Ohio State

Northwestern won in an elusive Big Ten blowout at home against the Buckeyes.

Ohio State v Northwestern Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Northwestern (15-5, 7-4 B1G) did more than just handle business against Ohio State (13-7, 3-6 B1G) blowing out the Buckeyes by a score of 83-56 on a foggy Saturday night in Evanston. The Wildcats’ best players all showed up, and supplementary scoring was plentiful in a game that felt locked up by halftime.

Ryan Langborg was electric for the ‘Cats early and finished with 14 points on the evening on 5-of-8 shooting while Boo Buie led the team with 19. Bruce Thornton paced the Buckeyes in scoring with 18. The Wildcats held OSU to just 34.1% from the field as a team.

Northwestern righted the ship on the boards in this one after some poor showings so far in conference play. They out-rebounded Ohio State by two. True to themselves, NU also won the turnover battle 11 to seven.

Matthew Nicholson won the tip to begin the night for the ‘Cats, but it was Roddy Gayle Jr. who got the scoring started with a two for the Buckeyes. A Buie-to-Nicholson alley-oop on Northwestern’s next trip down the floor evened the score, though.

After free throws from Jamison Battle, Langborg turned a Brooks Barnhizer steal into a three to give the ‘Cats a 5-4 lead. That was the way things stayed heading into the first media timeout, with Ty Berry earning three free throws after getting fouled from deep.

The senior buried all three, but the Buckeyes got a bucket inside from Zed Key on the ensuing trip to bring the deficit to 8-6. A few minutes later, with the score now 10-8, Barnhizer nailed a contested three in the corner and the student section erupted.

The two teams each had four fouls just eight minutes into the contest. With the score 13-9 as the teams were trading free throws, Battle settled things down for the Buckeyes, hammering home a three ball. The score was 15-12 at the under-12.

Langborg looked dialed in early. On Northwestern’s first possession out of the break, the Princeton transfer hit a three from NBA range to stretch the lead to six. He missed on the next trip down the floor, but drew a goaltending call on the next possession. He had eight points in the first 11 minutes. Bowen Hardman and Luke Hunger then traded threes to bring the score to 23-15 heading into the under-eight.

Ohio State answered out of the timeout with two made free throws followed by a Gayle Jr. three. All of the sudden, it was a one-possession game again at 23-20. It wasn’t for long, though. Langborg hammered home his third three of the night on the next possession, and the student section’s “Ry-an Lang-borg” chorus echoed through the arena. It only got louder when he made another three from the wing on the next trip.

With the score 29-22, Nick Martinelli got on the score sheet with a two before Thornton converted on a triple to cut the deficit to 31-25. That was the score at the under-four.

The offense was sloppy out of the timeout, but Hunger broke the ice with a tip-in off a Barnhizer miss. He was also fouled, and secured three-point play. Then, Buie finally saw the ball go through the hoop on a dribble-drive to stretch the lead to 36-25. After Gayle Jr. made two free throws for the Buckeyes, Martinelli knocked down a corner three to make it 39-27. The ‘Cats were 7-of-13 from beyond the arc in the first half.

After two more OSU free throws, Buie made his patented long floater. The Buckeyes got to the line for the third consecutive trip down the floor, but Zed Key made just one. The score was 41-30 with less than 10 seconds left when Barnhizer missed a three. Key immediately double-dribbled, though, and Northwestern had 2.8 seconds to work with. It failed to convert, though, and the lead stayed at eleven going into halftime.

Langborg led the way for the ‘Cats in the opening frame with 14, making four threes. Gayle Jr. and Thornton each had nine for Ohio State. The ‘Cats narrowly led in both the rebound and turnover battles while shooting 53.6% from the field. It was a very strong defensive effort from the ‘Cats in the first.

Nicholson was the first to score in the second half before Berry connected on a three from the corner to open up the lead to 16. After a few possessions that ended in free throws for both sides, Buie nailed a stepback three to make it a 50-33 ballgame at the under-16.

No. 0 scored again out of the break. The bucket put him in double figures before he made another three drop a few possessions later that brought the score to 55-36. The teams traded buckets before Barnhizer executed a pretty spin move on his defender and sank a two-point jumper leading to oohs and ahhs from the crowd. The score was 59-39 at the under-12.

After a two from Martinelli, Barnhizer rejected Dale Bonner on a three-point attempt. Martinelli scored again on the ensuing possession, drawing a foul, and the route was on in Welsh-Ryan with the scoreboard reading 64-39. The lead was up to 71-40 at the under-eight.

From there, Northwestern continued to ruthlessly execute on both ends of the floor. After Buie knocked down a couple of free throws to stretch the lead to 35, NU found itself on a 19-1 run. The score was 81-46 at the under-four, and the Wildcats would close it out from there to secure a 83-58 trouncing of Ohio State. Gus Hurlburt and Justin Mullins even saw the floor, much to the crowd’s pleasure.

Northwestern will return to action on Wednesday at No. 2 Purdue at 5:30 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network.