EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - Jared Sullinger hit the second of two free
throws with 3.5 seconds left Saturday night and No. 1 Ohio State
overcame a furious rally by Northwestern to beat the Wildcats 58-57
- the unbeaten Buckeyes' 22nd straight victory.
Sullinger finished with 21 points and Aaron Craft had 13 points
for Ohio State.
Leading by only two at the half, Ohio State (22-0, 9-0 Big Ten)
pulled out to a 13-point lead in the second half. But Northwestern,
playing without leading scorer John Shurna, who has a concussion,
came back behind senior guard Michael Thompson, who led the
Wildcats with 16 points - 13 in the second half.
Thompson's 3-pointer with 3:51 left capped a 21-7 run as the
Wildcats took a 55-54 lead and the crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena
Seconds later, Ohio State's Jon Diebler - No. 5 all-time in the
Big Ten in 3-pointers made - hit one for his first basket of the
game to put the Buckeyes right back in front 57-55.
Thompson then sailed through the lane and the 5-foot-10 guard
floated the ball into the basket for a tie with 1:31 left.
After an Ohio State turnover and then a foul, Northwestern
retained possession and tried to set up a go-ahead shot. But Ohio
State's David Lighty stole a pass with 17 seconds to go.
The Buckeyes got the ball to their freshman star Sullinger and
he was fouled with 3.5 seconds left. His first attempt hit the
front of the rim as Northwestern's student section waived, screamed
and tried to distract him from under the basket. He then swished
the second for a 58-57 Buckeyes' lead.
Following three timeouts, Drew Crawford's long attempt from just
over the midcourt line hit the backboard and Ohio State had pulled
out the tough victory.
Northwestern (13-8, 3-7) is now 0-16 all-time playing top-ranked
Thompson's 3-pointer with 7:53 left cut the lead to nine, and
Ohio State's Dallas Lauderdale was called for an intentional foul
on the play near the basket. Davide Curletti made 1 of 2 free
throws and the Wildcats retained possession with JerShon Cobb
hitting a 3-pointer. The seven-point possession made it 51-46 with
just a little more than seven minutes remaining and got
Northwestern back in the game.
Northwestern won the boards, despite the absence of the 6-8
Shurna, 31-20 and had 14 on the offensive end. Ohio State shot 57
percent for the game and Sullinger was 7 for 12 from the field.
The Buckeyes have now matched the second longest winning streak
in school history.
In 2006-07 Ohio State also won 22 straight, counting tournament
games, before losing in the NCAA championship game. The 1961-62
team was victorious in its first 22 games. The longest Buckeyes win
streak was 32, spanning two seasons from 1959-60 (last five) to
1960-61 (first 27).
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)