February 13, 2008

Bucks pull away late from Cats

EVANSTON - It was a record setting night for the Ohio State Buckeyes as Thad Matta went out for win No. 200 as a head coach while Jamar Butler looked to become the all-time Buckeye assist leader. It was mission accomplished on both counts as Kosta Koufos threw in 16 points, 11 rebounds and Evan Turner had a happy homecoming with ten of his own with eight boards as the Bucks (17-8, 8-4) rolled to a 65-47 win over Northwestern (7-15, 0-11).

The Bucks knew that a loss in Evanston would be a crippling blow to the teams push to get back to the NCAA tournament but on Wednesday night there was only one focus and that was getting a win against the Cats.

Northwestern would play Ohio State close through the first 20 minutes and the Buckeyes would take a slim one point lead to the halftime locker room 29-25 after a Craig Moore three pointer with less than 20 seconds left in the half.

It would be a back and forth game until six minutes into the second half with the Bucks leading by one at 35-34 until the team went on a 19-4 run that was capped off by a Jon Diebler three pointer off the bench. By the time the smoke cleared the Bucks were up 54-38 at the five minute mark and it was all over by the crying.

Butler came into Wednesday night's game five assists short of the all-time record held by Kelvin Ransey for assists. With six assists on the night Butler now is atop the Ohio State record book with 517 assists during his Buckeye career. Turner had seven assists of his own but the Bucks were still sloppy with the ball committing 18 turnovers against 16 assists.

Four Bucks ended up in double figures (Koufos 16, Butler 12, Turner 10, Othello Hunter) and Diebler had nine of his own. The Buckeyes shot better than 53-percent on the night from the field including going 9-22 from behind the arc. Northwestern was not as hot only shooting 37-percent from the field and 30-percent from beyond the three point line.

The Cats were led by Moore's 15 points and 12 points from Michael Thompson.

Matta picked up his 98th win with the Buckeyes and now has 200 for his career. Matta is now closing in on the 100 win mark with the team and doing so would make him the fifth coach in Buckeye history to win 100 or more games with the Bucks (Fred Taylor - 297, Harold Olsen - 260, Eldon Miller - 174, Randy Ayers - 124).

The Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor (Mich.) on Sunday afternoon to play against Michigan and look to sweep the season series from the hated Wolverines.

Stat Leaders
Ohio State - Koufos 16, Hunter 14, Butler 12
Northwestern - Moore 15, Thompson 12, Nash 9

Ohio State - Koufos 11, Turner 8, Hunter 5
Northwestern - Nash 8, Williams 3, Moore, 3

Ohio State - Turner 7, Butler 6, Lighty 2
Northwestern - Moore 5, Thompson 2, Coble 2

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