UGH! The game was going perfectly fine as the Buckeyes were essentially in control of most of the second half, but started collapsing late. With 6:58 left on the clock, Ohio State led 64-57, but Northwestern closed out the game outscoring the Buckeyes 14-6, and Duane Washington’s layup with 2 seconds left allowed Northwestern to prevail in a close, tightly contested Big Ten contest.
Shooting and Turnovers
CAN SOMEONE OTHER THAN SETH TOWNS PLEASE HIT A THREE POINTER! Seth Towns at halftime was 4-4 shooting, including 3-3 from three for 11 points. Unfortunately, he took just one second-half shot and failed to score afterward. Shooting 27-61 (44.3%) is not great, but it could have been worse. Yet, the Buckeyes managed a pathetic 4-20 shooting from beyond the arc (20%). They did shoot 12-15 from the line (80%), but those crucial misses were enough to give Northwestern the win. As for turnovers, Northwestern had only 5, while Ohio State had double with 10 turnovers. That simply is not going to get it done, especially when Ohio State outrebounded Northwestern 40-26.
Return of Seth Towns
Seth Towns got his first game with true, full-time meaningful minutes in this game, and boy oh boy was he good. His ability to generate an efficient and productive offense is going to be huge for the Buckeyes as the season wanes on. On the other hand, Duane Washington had just 7 points, including a missed game-winning layup, and he mustered just 1-9 shooting (1-6 from three). EJ Liddell had 15 points and 8 rebounds, while Kyle Young had 14 points and 8 rebounds, but that was about it. CJ Walker, Justin Sueing, and Duane Washington combined for just 19 points (7-26 shooting, 1-11 from three), and contributed to 6 of the team’s 10 turnovers. They have to start playing better as the season continues. Hopefully, Chris Holtmann decides to start Towns, which would require–most likely–moving Kyle Young to the bench, which may not be a bad thing offensively. Trading some offense for defense and rebounding might be key for the Buckeyes in the future because they do not have any size advantage over their opponents. And so, “downsizing” from Young to Towns is merely misleading and in reality not even the slightest bit of a downsized lineup.
Look, I am not upset that Ohio State lost, because every Big Ten is losable, especially on the road. Yet, I am upset because they should have won this game. They broke down late to an immensely hot Northwestern team coming from three huge Big Ten upset wins (Michigan State, Indiana, and Ohio State). Northwestern looks like a massive force to be reckoned with and they are going to be ranked when the new polls come out. As for Ohio State, another loss means another need to rebound for a team that cannot afford to start dropping games left and right. Ohio State gets one more chance to finish out 2020 on a high note when they head back home to play 4-5 Nebraska next.
Next Game: 12/30 vs Nebraska (6:30 PM on Big Ten Network)