In its first road game since an embarrassing loss at Connecticut last month, Ohio State earned improved to 3-0 in Big Ten play with a 65-56 win over Northwestern Wednesday night that gave the Buckeyes their seventh straight win.
The victory gave the Buckeyes (11-5, 3-0) their 11th straight win over the Wildcats (13-2, 1-2), but while Thad Matta has dominated the win column against Northwestern it hasn’t been easy and that was no different Wednesday.
The Buckeyes struggled with shooting and turnovers in a game that featured 11 ties and six lead changes, but thanks to timely buckets from Kam Williams were able to get their first road win of the season.
The reserve guard scored 21 points, hitting all five threes that Ohio State made in Evanston, while adding two steals and two rebounds in 32 minutes of action.
After both teams struggled to find their footing over the game’s first 26 minutes, Williams hit a three to give the Buckeyes a 37-36 advantage with 14:01 left. While the Wildcats would battle back to tie the game once, Ohio State never trailed from there.
The three was the start of a stretch where Williams scored eight straight points for Ohio State, including another three.
Bryant McIntosh did his best to keep the Wildcats in it as the sophomore scored 9 of his 15 points in the second half. Williams and the Buckeyes, however, were able to keep Northwestern at bay.
Both teams were inconsistent in the first half as the Wildcats struggled to shoot and the Buckeyes dealt with turnovers and foul trouble, the result was three lead changes and seven ties over the game’s first 20 minutes.
The foul problems came early for the Buckeyes as Keita Bates-Diop, the team’s second leading scorer picked up two in the game’s first three minutes and Matta received a technical after arguing that a JaQuan Lyle foul was a clean block just 3:31 into the contest.
The coach’s outburst resulted in the first lead of the night out of Northwestern as the Wildcats hit one of the two technical free throws and one of two from the shooting foul for an early 6-4 advantage.
The team’s continued to battle back and forth before Williams, who entered the game for Bates-Diop, got going. The sophomore hits the game’s first three with 8:52 remaining to tie the score at 15 and start a 14-2 run by Ohio State.
The spurt, which featured another three from Williams and a steal and assist from the sophomore for a Marc Loving dunk, swelled the Ohio State advantage to 26-17 and gave Williams 8 first-half points. But the Wildcats would close the half on 10-0 run as they finally got going from distance.
Tre Demps hit Northwestern’s first three after the team, which entered the game hitting over 37 percent, started 0-11 to draw his team with 26-24 with 1:50 left. Nathan Taphorn matched Demps with a three after an offensive rebound to give the Wildcats a 27-26 halftime edge.
Trevor Thompson finished with a double-double, scoring 12 and hauling in 10 boards, while Loving also reached double figures with 10.