Williams scores 21, Ohio State beats Northwestern 65-56
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.