The Ohio State men’s basketball team and coach Thad Matta made a change to the Buckeyes’ starting lineup against the Northwestern Wildcats, but it was the play of one of the remaining starters that made the difference.
Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell scored 21 of his 33 points in the second half to spark OSU to a 69-67 win against the Wildcats (10-9, 1-5) on Thursday night in Evanston, Ill.
Russell led the Buckeyes (15-5, 4-3) with six of their nine made 3-pointers on the night.
The freshman from Louisville, Ky., also led the Buckeyes in rebounds with seven and tied for teh team-high with six assists. Russell did not commit a turnover for the duration of the contest.
Freshman forward Jae’Sean Tate got his first start as a Buckeye, while redshirt-senior center Anthony Lee picked up his second of the season over sophomore forward Marc Loving and senior center Amir Williams, respectively. OSU struggled early, though, as the Wildcats got off to an 8-0 start, thanks in large part to junior center Alex Olah who scored six on 3-of-3 shooting in the opening minutes.
Tate, Lee and the Buckeyes responded to the early onslaught by Olah and the Wildcats however, as the Buckeyes ended the first half on a 28-13 run to take a 38-34 halftime lead.
Lee finished with eight points on 4-of-4 shooting, after averaging just 3.1 points per game in his first 16 games in the scarlet and gray.
Tate finished with four points and five rebounds.
OSU continued to build its lead coming out of the locker room, hitting its first four shots of the second half, opening up a nine point lead, 47-38, capped by a jab-step 3-pointer by Russell.
The Wildcats tied the game at 60 with 3:57 remaining, only for Russell to answer again with two deep threes that sealed the Buckeye victory.
OSU senior forward and Chicago native Sam Thompson added 11 points in the Buckeye victory.
Olah led the Wildcats with 16 points to go along with six rebounds.
The Buckeyes are set to return to action Sunday at home against the Indiana Hoosiers. Tip is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.