This was a huge game for both Ohio State and Northwestern. Ohio State needed this one badly to climb back into the Big Ten championship race. Northwestern was seeking their first quality win in the Big Ten.
Northwestern got off to a good start, but they didn't have an answer for D'Angelo Russell. The Buckeyes took a seemingly commanding lead in the 2nd half, but the Wildcats found a way to claw back into the game. After a few questionable no calls on what could have been goaltends and an incredible shot by Tre Demps, Ohio State scored a solid road win over Northwestern.
What We Learned
The Buckeyes continue to be plagued by slow starts
They let Northwestern get out to an early 21-10 lead before they start to play. This isn't anything new for Ohio State. They've trailed by over 15 to Iowa, North Carolina, and Louisville in the 1st half. They were able to come back in all 3 of those games, but ultimately lost. The Buckeyes were able to overcome their slow start this time, but this is a problem that must be fixed. They can't continue to do this, especially when they play better competition.
Northwestern never gives up
It would've been easy for them to give up after falling behind by 10 halfway through the 2nd half, but they didn't. They battled back and cut the deficit down to 2, but couldn't find a way to tie it up. You have to love the way the Wildcats fight in every game. It's a true reflection of Coach Collins. However, at the end of the day Northwestern didn't have the firepower to keep up with Russell and the Buckeyes.
D'Angelo Russell wouldn't let the Buckeyes lose again
He ended this one with 33/6/7. He scored the last 13 points for the Buckeyes. You have to love the player Russell has evolved into. He's a versatile player that can do it all on the offensive end. He showed on Thursday night that he can also close out games for the Buckeyes. It'd just be nice if he could get some help from some of his teammates. There was only one other Buckeye in double figures. If someone could help him, I think the Buckeyes could go far in March. Unfortunately, I don't see anyone else stepping up on offense for the Buckeyes.
We learned that Northwestern just doesn't have enough to win these close games. This is their 4th straight game they've lost in the last minute of the game. I do like the direction Northwestern is going in. One day they'll be able to win games like this, but unfortunately that's not now. This was a much needed win for the Buckeyes. They have Indiana and Maryland coming up, and they're still looking for their first win against a top 25 team. They found a way to win this one, and at this point that's all that matters for Ohio State.