2011 Ohio State Basketball
Buckeyes Dominate in Conference Opener
It's been quite some time since the Northwestern Wildcats came into Columbus and knocked off the Ohio State Buckeyes on their home floor... 30 games to be exact.
However, on Wednesday, the Wildcats came into Value City Arena confident, riding a 10-2 start to their 2011-12 campaign.
They were quickly humbled as 2nd ranked Buckeyes, led by their superb outside shooting, hammered the Wildcats in an 87-54 route, pushing the Wildcats losing streak to 31 games in Ohio’s capital city.
Ohio State senior, William Buford, led the scoring attack bucketing career-highs of 28 points and five 3-pointers in the Buckeyes Big Ten opener.
It was all over the media that Sullinger was a question mark, but he wasn't ruled out until just before the game, when his balky back was just too tight and bothersome to play.
"I was just shooting the ball," said Buford, who was 9-for-14 from the field including a scorching 5-for-7 from downtown. "I was fortunate to knock them down because my teammates were setting great screens for me. They kept telling me to shoot."
Next-to-last in the conference in 3-pointers at 4.8 per game, the Buckeyes hit seven triples in the first half to build a big lead and finished 10-for-20 from long range.
"We were saving it," Ohio State coach Thad Matta joked following the game.
Not only were the Buckeyes (13-1, 1-0) on fire from outside, but they were also controlling the paint led by super sophomore Jared Sullinger who added 17 points and 14 rebounds. OSU as a team dominated the boards, outrebounding Northwestern by a 49-30 margin.
Deshaun Thomas had 16 points for Ohio State, which broke the game open with a 13-0 first-half run fueled by treys. Jordan Sibert added 12 points, all of his points coming from beyond-the-arc.
Sibert, just 8-for-31 on 3-pointers coming in, got his shooting hand hit by point guard Aaron Craft during a recent practice causing a partial tear of some ligaments. Although, the injury didn't seem to bother him on this night as his four triples and 12 points were both career-highs.
"I had kind of gotten complacent in the spring and summer shooting and I didn't work as hard as I felt I needed to," Sibert said.
Matta joked that Sibert's shooting is much better with the injured hand that even if it required surgery, Sibert would have to play through the pain.
"We're not going to fix it," said a laughing Matta. "We're going to leave it be."
As if the offense wasn't enough, the Buckeyes defense was stifling, causing the conference's top two scorers, John Shurna and Drew Crawford, to have miserable games. Collectively, the dynamic duo was held to just 24 points on a combined 9-for-30 shooting.
Northwestern falls to 10-3 overall (0-1 Big Ten) and will look for their first conference victory as they host the Penn State Nittany Lions on New Year's Day.
Ohio state, on-the-other-hand, will face one of their biggest tests of the season as they travel to Assembly Hall to take on the 15th ranked Indiana Hoosiers.
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