Men’s Basketball: The B-Team: Buie, Barnhizer and Beran propel Northwestern to road victory against Ohio State


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer drives the ball against Wisconsin. Barnhizer had his best game in a Northwestern uniform Thursday, pouring in a career-high 19 points in the Wildcats’ 69-63 win against Ohio State.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

Good things come in threes. For Northwestern, the driving force in its Thursday win against Ohio State was not only sparked by success from beyond the arc but also the efforts of a prolific B-team trio: sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer, senior guard Boo Buie and senior forward Robbie Beran.

On a night where redshirt senior guard Chase Audige was mired by inefficiency and junior guard Ty Berry’s shooting woes continued, coach Chris Collins once again turned to Barnhizer for a spark.

The sophomore provided an emphatic response.

Barnhizer, the bench workhorse charged with doing all the dirty work at the beginning of the season, has transformed himself into a viable offensive weapon. Though the Wildcats’ (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) offense continues to flow through Buie and Audige, Barnhizer has steadily transitioned into the role of an off-ball scorer.  

After posting eight points and seven rebounds in NU’s win against Wisconsin on Sunday, the Indiana native said that when his coaches “invest in him, he’s gotta go perform.” He did just that to the tune of a career night against the Buckeyes in a 69-63 win.

Entering Thursday’s clash, Barnhizer had hit just 11 three-pointers on the season at a dismal 22.9% clip. However, against Ohio State, the basket must’ve looked as wide as Lake Michigan because Barnhizer nailed 4-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc. 

One triple, in particular, stands out in magnitude. 

With just under five minutes remaining, the Cats had built a six-point lead, bringing the score to 58-52. Audige passed the ball to Barnhizer with a mere three seconds on the shot clock. Barnhizer stepped into the shot with confidence and hoisted up a three from seemingly five feet behind the line. He buried it.

That isn’t a shot Barnhizer makes regularly, nor is it one that he’s likely made all season. But as coaches so frequently declare: Great players step up in the big moments. He’s only in year two, but Barnhizer’s career-high 19 points — on 70% shooting, at that — might just be a small indication of what’s to come for his future in purple and white. 

Meanwhile, Buie, as he has all season, shouldered much of the offensive load for the Cats once more. The team’s leader in scoring and assists proved his mettle in another game, posting 19 points and five assists. 

Although initially troubled by Ohio State’s hard hedging on ball screens, Buie effectively navigated it as the game wore on. Just 90 seconds before viewers bore witness to Barnhizer’s heat check, Buie delivered an impressive assist to the sophomore for an equally crucial bucket.

Holding a slim 51-50 advantage, Buie drove to his right with Buckeye forward Zed Key glued to his hip. After attracting the eyes of three Ohio State defenders under the basket, Buie bounced a pass to a wide-open Barnhizer, who canned the three-pointer. It was another momentum-swinging play from the duo at just the right moment.

Checking the postgame box score, Beran’s numbers wouldn’t blow anyone away. The final member of NU’s B-Team provided a modest eight points and four rebounds, though his defensive fortitude proved vital once again. Beran’s five-point spurt midway through the second half also provided an offensive boost outside of Buie and Barnhizer’s efforts. 

Following Audige’s triple 35 seconds into the second half, the trio comprised the Cats’ only scorers until Audige hit a free throw at the 8:27 mark. In the end, Buie, Barnhizer and Beran combined for 46 of NU’s 69 points while shooting a sterling 8-of-15 from beyond the arc. 

The clash with the Buckeyes was a season-defining game in every sense for the Cats. They now leave Columbus, Ohio, with a Quad 1 victory, in large part because their B-Team helped push NU into a tie for second place in the Big Ten. 

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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