Ohio State (17-8, 8-4) ran away from Northwestern (7-15, 0-11) with an 18-2 run late in the game.
The Buckeyes managed to break away from the Wildcats by hitting some shots behind the arc. However, the work down low by Koufos and Hunter was the key to victory.
Ohio State scored 30 points in the paint. Koufos was 7-10 from the field with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Hunter added 14 points and five rebounds, making 6-8 from the field.
Craig Moore, Northwestern’s leading scorer with 15 points on 6-13 shooting, hit a three pointer at the end of the first half and Northwestern was in position for their first Big Ten Conference win. Long scoring droughts by the Wildcats in the second half allowed the Buckeyes to pull away.
Northwestern was 18-49 from the field for 36.7 percent. The Wildcats were out-rebounded 34-23.
The game was ugly from the start. Both teams struggled to take care of the ball. Ohio State committed 18 turnovers, while Northwestern contributed 17 of their own. At times, this game had the feel of a sixth grade basketball game. Ohio State is fortunate the game was on the Big Ten Network.
Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament chances would be zero if the game was on ESPN and any NCAA committee members happened to stumble on the game.
Jamar Butler had 12 points and six assists, becoming the Ohio State assist leader with 517 assists. Butler passed Kelvin Ransey, who had 516 assists in his career at Ohio State.
Evan Turner was 4-8 from the field and had ten points, eight rebounds, and seven assists for Ohio State. Turner did have some issues taking care of the ball, committing five turnovers.
Thad Matta recorded his 200th career victory. Matta has coached at Butler, Xavier, and Ohio State. Matta is 98-30 at Ohio State.
Northwestern typically causes problems for the Buckeyes. Ohio State did not take the Wildcats for granted. Ohio State was aggressive on defense and forced a lot of difficult shots.
The Buckeye’s decision making was suspect at times; however, they played with effort and energy the entire night. A win on the road is never a bad thing in the Big Ten, especially after a tough loss at home (OSU lost to Indiana at home last Sunday, 59-53).
Ohio State’s next game is at Michigan on Sunday (1pm ET, CBS). The Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 65-55 last week in Columbus.
The Buckeyes are comfortably in fifth place in the Big Ten standings with an 8-4 conference record, only a half game behind fourth place Michigan State.