Jan. 3, 2001

Box Score| Quotes| Notes

AP Sports Writer

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.