Jan. 06, 2016
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) – Kam Williams felt he was in for a big game and that’s exactly what he delivered.
Williams nailed a career-high five 3-pointers while scoring 21 to lead Ohio State to a 65-56 victory over Northwestern and its seventh straight win on Wednesday night.
”I know I can get hot anywhere,” he said. ”It felt that way as soon as we got off the plane and came here. I knew I was going to have a hot hand.”
Williams was about the only one connecting for either team, finishing one point shy of his season high to help the Buckeyes (11-5, 3-0 Big Ten) extend their best streak since a 15-0 start in 2013-14. They pulled away down the stretch to beat Northwestern (13-3, 1-2) for the 28th time in 29 games.
Trevor Thompson had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Ohio State.
Williams hit 5 of 9 from long range while the rest of his team combined to go 0 for 9. The Buckeyes were also 10 of 22 at the foul line, but they disrupted enough shots inside and on the perimeter to come away with a rather ugly win.
Northwestern couldn’t connect even when it had openings, shooting about 31 percent overall, and had another awful performance from the perimeter. The Wildcats made just 6 of 25 3-pointers after going 2 of 20 in Saturday’s loss to then-No. 4 Maryland.
Bryant McIntosh led them with 15 points and six assists. But he also shot just 5 of 15 and committed five turnovers.
Dererk Pardon grabbed 14 rebounds as the Wildcats dropped their second straight after winning 10 in a row – the program’s second-longest run.
Part of the problem for Northwestern is the absence of center Alex Olah. The 7-footer has missed the past four games because of a left foot injury, leaving the Wildcats without their main inside presence. That creates more pressure on the perimeter for McIntosh and backcourt mate Tre Demps, who shot 3 of 17 and 1 of 8 on 3s in a seven-point effort.
”The one thing you want to do is not overreact too much,” coach Chris Collins said about the 3-point shooting. ”You want to look at the film and you want to see: Are you getting good shots? From my vantage point, I thought we did get some clean ones. Demps had a number of open looks from 3. He just wasn’t able to get them down. We’re not gonna lose confidence in him.”
Northwestern’s Aaron Falzon had just cut it to 51-50 with a long 3 from up top with about six minutes left when the Buckeyes went on a 14-3 run to seal the win.
A fastbreak layup by Jae’Sean Tate off a turnover by McIntosh and two free throws by JaQuan Lyle after he blocked McIntosh and got fouled by the point guard boosted the lead to 64-53 with 2:17 remaining.
But Williams really was the difference. He was 8 of 13 from the field and coach Thad Matta said there wasn’t a bad shot in the bunch.
”The biggest thing was just telling guys, `Hey find him. Find him,”’ Matta said.
Ohio State looked like it was starting to take control late in the first half, up 26-17 after scoring nine in a row. But Northwestern closed it out on a 10-0 run, hitting two 3s after missing its first 11, to take a one-point lead to the locker room.
Demps ended the long-range drought when he connected with 1:45 remaining and Nathan Taphorn nailed one from the corner to put the Wildcats ahead 27-26 with 19 seconds left.
Lyle then stepped on the baseline near the Buckeyes’ basket with a second remaining.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have not lost since Connecticut beat them on Dec. 12.
Northwestern: Northwestern was 2 of 13 on 3-pointers in the first half.
Ohio State visits Indiana on Sunday.
Northwestern visits Minnesota on Saturday.