Rapid Recap: Ohio State 71, Northwestern 65

Isiah+Brown+dribbles+on+the+perimeter.+The+sophomore+guard+didn%27t+play+in+Wednesday%27s+loss+to+Ohio+State+after+tying+for+the+team+lead+in+points+in+the+previous+game.
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Rapid Recap: Ohio State 71, Northwestern 65

Isiah Brown dribbles on the perimeter. The sophomore guard didn't play in Wednesday's loss to Ohio State after tying for the team lead in points in the previous game.

Isiah Brown dribbles on the perimeter. The sophomore guard didn't play in Wednesday's loss to Ohio State after tying for the team lead in points in the previous game.

Daily file photo by David Lee

Isiah Brown dribbles on the perimeter. The sophomore guard didn't play in Wednesday's loss to Ohio State after tying for the team lead in points in the previous game.

Daily file photo by David Lee

Daily file photo by David Lee

Isiah Brown dribbles on the perimeter. The sophomore guard didn't play in Wednesday's loss to Ohio State after tying for the team lead in points in the previous game.

Joseph Wilkinson, Sports Editor

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Northwestern’s thrilling comeback came up just short in a 71-65 loss to Ohio State at Allstate Arena on Wednesday. After falling down 62-49 in the second half, the hosts ripped off a 16-6 run to cut the deficit to three with 41 seconds left, but clutch free throws from the visitors put the game away.

Early on, it looked like the Wildcats (11-9, 2-5 Big Ten) might be competitive the whole way, opening up an early 12-6 lead on the back of 7 points from senior forward Gavin Skelly. Then the visiting Buckeyes (16-4, 7-0) ripped off a 22-5 run.

After falling behind in the first half, NU turned in an encouraging performance on offense in the second half, but couldn’t slow down Ohio State defensively. The Buckeyes shot 54 percent from the field in the second half.

Takeaways

1. Zero is worth less than three. The Cats made their first two long range shots in the game and then missed 11 consecutive 3-pointers. The team finished shooting 30 percent from deep. With sophomore forward Aaron Falzon missing the game with a thigh injury, the team struggled to space the floor and get open looks from deep, hoisting a number of contested shots off the dribble. But even when the team generated open shots, it failed to knock them down, a recurring theme this season.

2. Anthony Gaines is already a lot better. The freshman guard was the only newcomer to college basketball in this year’s recruiting class, but coach Chris Collins already trusts his youngest player with more minutes than either of the returning sophomores, center Barret Benson and guard Isiah Brown. To start the year, Gaines was hesitant offensively and conservative defensively, but he’s grown into a bigger role in conference play. His athleticism and length brings a different element to NU’s zone defense. Against Ohio State he picked up three steals and generated multiple fastbreak opportunities for the Cats. He also made two 3-pointers after making only one all season before Wednesday’s game.

3. That doesn’t mean the zone worked. Theoretically, NU’s aggressive zone defense could’ve flustered an Ohio State team that doesn’t feature an aggressive scoring point guard. Instead, the Buckeyes carved it up to the tune of 45 percent shooting from the field. Throughout the game, the Cats seemed to struggle with communication in a defense that was a rarity for the team before last week’s game against Minnesota. Miscommunication occasionally also led to open shooters at the 3-point line, where Ohio State shot 35 percent.

Email: josephwilkinson2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson

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