Feb. 19, 2014

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Game Highlights
Coach Matta Press Conference
Smith Jr., Thompson Press Conference
Northwestern Press Conference 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – LaQuinton Ross scored 16 points to lead No. 24 Ohio State to a 76-60 victory over Northwestern on Wednesday night.

The Buckeyes overcame a slow start to take command of the game.

The victory was Ohio State’s 30th consecutive win over Northwestern in Columbus, dating to an 83-72 loss on Feb. 24, 1977, at old St. John Arena.

Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. each added 14 points for Ohio State. Sam Thompson, who had not hit double figures in his last eight games, had 11 for the Buckeyes (21-6, 8-6 Big Ten), who have won five of their last six.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I couldn’t shoot,” Thompson joked. “I just had open looks and was able to knock them down.”

The Buckeyes, up by four at the break, took control by starting the second half with a 9-0 run.

Craft hit two foul shots on the first possession — an action that would be repeated as the Wildcats were called for five fouls in the opening 2:10 of the half. Ohio State was in the double-bonus for the final 10:46.

They ended up making 23 of 29 free throws to Northwestern’s 9 of 14.

At the other end, Crawford’s baseline jumper was blocked by Thompson, who then poured in a 3 from the wing off an assist from Smith. Northwestern’s Chris Collins called a quick timeout with just 56 seconds elapsed, but that didn’t change the momentum.

Craft stole a pass that went through Crawford’s hands, then flipped a long pass to Thompson who passed up a layup to throw the ball back to Smith for an emphatic dunk.

Moments later, Thompson flipped in a perimeter jumper for a 46-33 advantage.

Northwestern went scoreless for the final 50 seconds of the opening half and the first 3:43 of the second until JerShon Cobb hit a jumper.

Ohio State pulled away from there, with the lead never dipping below double figures.

“We did a pretty good job of getting inside the defense and attacking and we were finishing around there,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said.

Of the spurt in the middle of the game, Matta said it was as good as his team had played over a span in recent weeks.

“Yeah, with the consistency, no question,” he said. “We felt like we needed a run. We kept saying we needed to put a run on.”

Drew Crawford scored 22 points and Tre Demps 14 for the Wildcats (12-15, 5-9), who have lost four in a row.

There was one more flare-up after a skirmish under the Ohio State basket. With 2:51 remaining, Craft was dribbling on a breakaway when Northwestern’s Cobb shoved him from behind. The officials ruled it was an intentional foul, but did not eject Cobb.

The Wildcats went on a 13-1 spurt in the first half, with Crawford leading the way with five points on an 18-foot fadeaway under pressure and a long, high-arcing 3. That turned a 15-12 deficit into a 25-16 lead as the Buckeyes were scoreless for more than 4 1/2 minutes.

But over the final 7 minutes of the half, Ohio State scored 21 of the 29 points to take a 37-33 lead. Ross was the main culprit, at one point scoring all the points in a 7-0 run.