Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Nothing has come easy for the No. 10 Ohio State men’s basketball team lately, but sophomore forward Jared Sullinger wouldn’t let his team lose a fourth game in six contests against Northwestern.
Sullinger hit a shot from the right block with just less than four seconds remaining to give OSU a 75-73 victory despite a furious second-half run from the Wildcats.
The Buckeyes were up by as many as 12 points in the second half, but Northwestern scored eight points in the final 2:45 of the game to tie the game at 73 with 10 seconds remaining.
But Sullinger’s bucket allowed OSU to escape with a win and again gave the team control of its own destiny.
A win against Michigan State Sunday would give OSU a share of the Big Ten regular season championship.
Northwestern came into Wednesday’s game with a lot on the line. The Wildcats are fighting to earn their first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament and were celebrating senior night in their home arena, but the Buckeyes ultimately earned their victory inside.
OSU outrebounded Northwestern, 42-16, and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds.
Sullinger had scored just 17 total points in OSU’s two previous games, but had his way with the Wildcats in the paint. He scored 22 points and added 18 rebounds.
Three-point shooting kept Northwestern in the game early. Despite being outrebounded, 20-3, in the first half, the Wildcats connected on seven first-half threes to keep the score at 39-29 heading into the locker room.
In total, Northwestern made 13 shots from behind the arc including four from senior forward John Shurna, who finished with 22 points.
His long ball with 13:44 remaining in the game cut the OSU advantage to seven, but sophomore guard Aaron Craft answered with a 3-pointer of his own to put the Buckeyes up, 54-44.
Craft had four 3-pointers on the night and finished with 14 points.
The Wildcats continued to claw their way back though. A pair of free throws from sophomore guard JerShon Cobb cut OSU’s lead to three and junior guard Alex Marcotullio’s 3-pointer tied the game.
Northwestern never had another chance though, and its NCAA Tournament hopes remain in question.
The win brings OSU’s record to 24-6 on the year and 12-5 in the conference.
They travel to Michigan State Sunday for their final regular season game of the season.
A win in East Lansing would move the Buckeyes into a tie with Michigan State atop the Big Ten Standings. If OSU beats Michigan State and Michigan wins its two remaining games, the Wolverines would also share the conference title.
The game between the Buckeyes and the Spartans will tip off at 4 p.m.