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No. 1 Buckeyes survive scare from Northwestern

Jan 30, 2011 - 3:56 AM Evanston, IL (Sports Network) - Jared Sullinger's free throw with 3.5 seconds remaining helped the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes survive a 58-57 scare from the Northwestern Wildcats.

Northwestern's Michael Thompson made a runner in the lane with 1 1/2 minutes to play to tie the game at 57-57. Ohio State's Aaron Craft then turned the ball over, but Alex Marcotullio did the same for Northwestern at the other end.

The Buckeyes ran the clock down and Sullinger was fouled down low by Marcotullio with 3.5 ticks remaining. Sullinger made 1-of-2 from the line to make it 58-57.

Northwestern, which has never defeated the nation's top-ranked team, had one last shot to pull off the upset. But Drew Crawford's half-court heave was off the mark.

"I think we just kept moving and moving," Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said. "Some of the guys that were missing them early started knocking them down. Mike (Thompson) mostly but then JerShon (Cobb) hit a big one, Alex (Marcotullio) hit a big one. We probably had about five or six in the second half, and probably all in the last 10 minutes."

Sullinger ended with 21 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes (22-0, 9-0 Big Ten), who have won 26 consecutive regular-season contests.

Craft and William Buford tallied 13 and 11 points, respectively, for Ohio State, which has won its last 12 true road games.

"What an incredible basketball game if you're a fan," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "It was a great game. We had some spurts but we've got to give Northwestern credit, they never cracked. They just kept coming at us and had a rhythm going."

Thompson made four three-pointers en route to 16 points to go with eight assists for the Wildcats (13-8, 3-7), who faced their second straight ranked foe after falling at No. 16 Minnesota on Wednesday, 81-70.

Ohio State built a 17-10 lead on David Lighty's jumper with nine minutes left in the first half.

Northwestern used an ensuing 11-2 run to go in front. JerShon Cobb and Thompson both made three-pointers during the burst, with Thompson's trey making it a 21-19 contest with 3:50 to go.

A Sullinger layup and Craft's three-pointer moments later gave the Buckeyes a 26-23 edge. It was 27-25 at the break.

Holding a 33-29 lead early in the second half, Ohio State ripped off eight straight points to create some breathing room. Buford and Sullinger both tallied four points during the burst to make it a 41-29 game with 14:05 to play.

Trailing by 12, 51-39, with 8:08 to go, the Wildcats sent the crowd into a frenzy with a 16-3 run. Thompson made a trio of three-pointers during the surge, with the last giving Northwestern a 55-54 margin with 3:50 remaining.

Jon Diebler stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer to put Ohio State back in front. Buford turned the ball over a few possessions later, leading to Thompson's game-tying runner with 1:32 to play.

Game Notes

Ohio State has won 14 of the last 15 meetings with Northwestern to further the gap in the all-time series to 108-45. As a ranked team, OSU is 31-2 against Northwestern...The Wildcats fell to 9-3 at home this season...Northwestern played the nation's top-ranked team for the 16th time in school history on Saturday...Ohio State made 56.8 percent of its shots, while the Wildcats shot 39.2 percent from the field...Northwestern went 9-of-30 from beyond the arc...Lighty had six points.