After two quality wins, and an impending matchup with No. 11 West Virginia, some might have thought that the Ohio State men’s basketball team could overlook Northwestern.
That clearly was not the case.
The Buckeyes dominated the Wildcats Tuesday night, 76-56, using the game as more of a warm-up session than a real contest against a Big Ten opponent.
OSU started with a 9-0 run, then responded to Northwestern’s first bucket with another eight-point spurt.
Before the sweating even started, the game was practically over.
Leading 40-17 at halftime, the Buckeyes used an attacking mentality to break down a good Northwestern defense.
“I thought we were able to get out to a good start, especially on the defensive end,” coach Thad Matta said. “It opened some things up to us offensively and in transition. I thought we did a pretty decent job.”
Junior guard Evan Turner, who was recently awarded his fourth Big Ten Player of the Week honor, was again the lightning rod for Ohio State.
Turner was two assists shy of his third triple-double of the season. He scored 20 points and added 13 rebounds.
“I thought in practiced we attacked [Northwestern’s] 1-3-1 [defense] pretty well,” Turner said. “We figured we’d attack instead of retreat or wait for them to attack us and we’d be fine.”
Turner said this week that he believed he was about 90 percent healthy but wanted to get back to the triple-double form he was at before his injury. Although he was a few assists short, it looks as if he has again reached that level.
“I thought he got a little bit tired down the stretch,” Matta said. “He is getting back, there is no doubt about that.”
Jon Diebler chipped in 17 points, while center Dallas Lauderdale had 14.
It seems long ago that OSU was struggling to get wins early in the Big Ten, but with a quick three-game turnaround it looks as if the Buckeyes are back.
Matta stopped just short of saying OSU was on a roll, however. Instead he turned his attention to the Buckeyes’ next opponent.
“We’re rolling to West Virginia next,” he said.