Ohio State travels to Welsh-Ryan Arena Thursday night as Northwestern begins its final homestand of the season. The Wildcats will finished up the home portion of their schedule when they host Penn State March 7th.
With significant injuries, Northwestern has been mired in a five game losing streak and they have lost seven of eight overall.
Their sputtering offense has been the biggest problem. The Wildcats have broken 60 only once in their last eight games. That was a 75-60 victory over Purdue on February 2nd. In their last three games and five of their last seven, Northwestern has failed to break 50.
The last three meetings in Evanston between Northwestern and Ohio State have come down to the last possessions. John Shurna’s three with 3.3 seconds left in 2009 gave NU a 72-69 win. A Jared Sullinger free throw with 3.5 seconds remaining gave number one Ohio State a 58-57 victory two years ago and a SUllinger layup with 3.1 seconds remaining gave the Buckeyes a 75-73 victory last season.
Northwestern played one of its better games this season in a 69-59 loss in Columbus. A late 12-0 Ohio State before a final meaningless Northwestern basket provided the Buckeyes winning margin.
‘Tre Demps had his best game of the season against the Buckeyes with 16 points. He was 6-12 from the field, including 4-6 on his three point attempts. Overall Northwestern shot 46 percent from the floor and made 11 of their 26 three point attempts as a team.
Ohio State pounded Northwestern on the boards out rebounding them 38-17. OSU also made 14-22 from the line to just 2-3 for Northwestern.
The Wildcats did a good job on the Big Ten’s leading scorer DeShaun Thomas. Thomas finished with 22 points and seven rebounds, but shot just 6-17 from the floor and 0-5 on threes. He earned his points by making 10-12 from the line.
Two of the Big Ten’s better point guards will faceoff when Aaron Craft of Ohio State and David Sobolewski of Northwestern lead their teams. Craft is second in the Big Ten in assists and Sobo is fifth, They are fourth and fifth in the Big Ten in Assists to Turnover ratio. OSU backup point guard Shannon Scott is seventh in conference in assists and second in asst-to ration despite not starting a game this season.
Ohio State’s Lenzelle Smith returns home to face NU. Smith prepped about 20 miles north of Evanston at Zion-Benton. Smith had 12 earlier this year and also scored 12 in last season’s game in Evanston. He did not play in the game at Welsh-Ryan two seasons ago.
Northwestern and Ohio State will tipoff at 6pm CT on ESPN2 with Joe Tessitore and Sean Farnham. Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle will paint the action on WGN.