Halftime Score: Ohio State 42, Northwestern 33
It’s the first game of the season where the Buckeyes are able to have their families in attendance. That has to be an exciting feeling to see their loved ones’ faces in the crowd again. Let’s see if that energy and excitement gives Ohio State an added edge over the Wildcats.
There’s a few questions heading into the game. With both C.J. Walker and Jimmy Sotos out, who steps up? How does Duane Washington Jr. play with the added pressure and responsibilities?
Justin Ahrens gets his second start of the season in place of the injured Sotos, who started the previous game against Rutgers in place of the injured Walker. Meanwhile, Justice Sueing slides over to play point guard for the first time in his career.
Nothing is too out of the ordinary before the first media timeout except for Chase Audige, who is nailing everything in sight for the Wildcats. He’s got all of their first nine points. The Buckeyes will have to make an early defensive adjustment to shut him down - otherwise, he could have a big night.
Washington Jr. is rising to the challenge of being the primary ball handler and his offense isn’t suffering either. He’s started 4-of-5 for 11 points, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. That’s a great sign for someone who struggled with his shooting efficiency early in the season but who has really come on as of late. On the other hand, E.J. Liddell can’t get going as he’s missed his first four attempts from the floor.
What sticks out like a sore thumb is the 3-point shooting percentage. Northwestern started off only 10 percent from beyond the arc (1-for-10) while the Buckeyes are shooting the deep ball well at 42.9 percent (6-of-14), which included the first points of Meechie Johnson Jr.’s collegiate career on his very first attempt. Ohio State came into the game only shooting 32.1 percent from three so this is promising.
Ahrens has gotten some good looks from deep but he picked up his second foul late in the half. That creates a few more problems in terms of depth at the guard position. Liddell also picked up his second foul late too. Hopefully any foul trouble starts and ends there.
Johnson Jr. has done some good things on the offensive end of the floor. His second 3-pointer gave the Buckeyes their first double-digit lead of the game and he’s also collected one rebound and one assist. Audige brings it back within 10, though, to close out the period.
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