Buckeyes Blowout Northwestern

Northwestern opened up Big Ten conference play with a 33-point loss against No. 2 Ohio State. The Wildcats now look to move on after their second consecutive loss.

Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody may have put it best when he said to Ohio State coach Thad Matta they played about as well as he imagined Ohio State could have played. The Wildcats fell apart in both teams' conference openers in a 87-54 rout, their biggest loss against the Buckeyes since 1991.

"We got some shots, but our guys really weren't in the flow of our offense," Carmody said. "I thought we'd be able to get better shots than we did."

Poor shooting plagued the team, including the Wildcats' strongest playmakers. The team was 17-53—32.1 percent—from the field. Forward Drew Crawford, who notched 34 points against Creighton, was held to 33 percent shooting for 13 points to lead the Wildcats.

"It just seemed like after 10 seconds of running our offense, things would break down," Carmody said.

John Shurna was similarly contained; his 5-18 from the floor and 1-6 from beyond the arch was atypical of the forward who averaged 19.4 points heading into Columbus.

Contrast this to Ohio State, who shot 47.5 percent and had big performances, especially from senior guard William Buford. Buford had five three-point baskets and 28 points.

"Shurna looked tired, he wasn't doing things decisively," Carmody said. "Buford looks as good as anyone to me... He gets in the lane, gets fouled, makes shots. He's doing things decisively like Shurna didn't tonight."

In addition to having an off night, the Buckeyes came into the game looking out for Shurna and Crawford, the Big Ten's first- and second-leading scorers, respectively.

"It was kind of a heightened awareness," Matta said. "Those guys have taken, in essence, half of Northwestern's field goal attempts on the year. Our guys had an idea of how capable they are."

Buford said his strategy for guarding Crawford was simple:

"Just make it difficult for him. Don't let him get open," Buford said.

The game down under was a similar story. Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger put up a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Buford credited his team's success to how Sullinger was able to dominate Northwestern's big men.

Ohio State out-rebounded Northwestern 49-30, including 15 on offense for Ohio State. Northwestern has lost the rebound battle in each of their losses this season.

Northwestern faced further adversity in the second half as several players went into foul trouble. Three players, Crawford, center Luka Mirkovic and center Davide Curletti finished the game with four fouls and two more players finished with three.

After this bad start to their conference season, Northwestern looks ahead to a game against Penn State on New Year's Day. The Nitanny Lions have one of the worst records in the Big Ten and the ‘Cats hope to get back on track when they return to Welsh-Ryan. That game will begin at 6 p.m. CT.

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