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Jan. 3, 2001

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%^$%^$%^$%^$Box Score|%^$Quotes|%^$Notes%^$%^$%^$%^$%^$%^$%^$

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By RUSTY MILLER
%^$AP Sports Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Brent Darby scored a career-high 21 points and Ken%^$Johnson set the tone on defense as Ohio State beat Northwestern 73-56 on%^$Wednesday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.%^$

Darby, a sophomore point guard who had never scored more than 18 points, hit%^$3-of-5 3-pointers and added five assists – one off his career best.%^$

Saddled with two early fouls, Johnson sat out the last 15 minutes of the%^$first half. But he had eight points and five blocked shots in the first 8 1/2%^$minutes of the second half as Ohio State padded its lead. Johnson, who led the%^$nation in blocked shots last year, ended up with 12 points, six rebounds and%^$six blocks in just 20 minutes.%^$

Brian Brown added 11 points for the Buckeyes (10-3).%^$

Winston Blake scored 22 points – hitting 4-of-7 3-pointers – while Aaron%^$Jennings added 12 points and Tavaras Hardy had 11 for Northwestern (7-6), which%^$lost its third in a row in first-year coach Bill Carmody’s Big Ten debut.%^$

Ohio State, which won all but one of the games in a nine-game homestand,%^$never trailed after Darby hit a 3-pointer on the first trip down the floor.%^$

The Buckeyes led 27-20 after Blake hit a perimeter jumper with 2:46 left in%^$the first half.%^$

The Buckeyes reeled off the last six points of the first half and the first%^$five of the second half to build the lead to 38-20. Brown had five points in%^$the spurt.%^$

Darby had 11 points as Ohio State led 33-20 at the break.%^$

Johnson then took over in the paint. The Wildcats got as close as 46-32 on%^$Blake’s jumper at the 13:28 mark but Johnson started to attack the basket at%^$both ends of the court.%^$

He blocked three shots in the span of 2 minutes. At the other end, he%^$brought an announced crowd of 18,108 to its feet with a dunk off an backdoor%^$pass from Sean Connolly with 12:34 left that made it 53-32.%^$

The Wildcats never got closer than the final margin again.