OSU crushes Wildcats in must-win game

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 24, 2000

The Associated Press

Michael Redd scored 25 points and the Buckeyes broke open a close game at the half to beat the Wildcats 69-49 on Wednesday night.

Thursday, February 24, 2000

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Michael Redd scored 25 points and the Buckeyes broke open a close game at the half to beat the Wildcats 69-49 on Wednesday night.

”In the second half our defense really took over and we were very good,” Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien said. ”The first 20 minutes wasn’t so much about what we didn’t do, other than make a few more shots. It was all about what they did do.”

The Wildcats had as many shots blocked (5) in the second half as they made.

Redd hit all five of his shots from the field in the second half for the Buckeyes (19-5, 10-3), who stayed within a game of the top spot in the Big Ten with three games remaining.

”I was in the flow of the offense, attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line,” Redd said.

”We played hard in the first half but in the second half we played a lot harder.”

Northwestern coach Kevin O’Neill said it was a mismatch to have Redd guarded by a first-year player.

”You get a pro out there against a freshman and that’s what happens,” he said.

George Reese added 16 points and Brian Brown had 10. Ken Johnson had 11 rebounds and six blocked shots along with seven points.

”We didn’t want to be the team that was going to be their first victory,” Reese said.

Ben Johnson led the Wildcats (5-21, 0-13) with 17 points with Steve Lepore adding 11.

Northwestern led 10-6 early and trailed just 29-27 at the half as seven players scored. The 27 points was dramatic improvement from the Wildcats’ last game, when they mustered just six points at the half in a 63-30 home loss to Illinois on Saturday.

”I’m sure Jimmy got after them at halftime, let’s be honest about it,” O’Neill said.

Ohio State opened the second half on a 9-2 spurt with Redd scoring five points. Brian Brown got it started when he rebounded his own miss and Penn added a steal and layup.

After a Lepore 3-pointer drew the Wildcats to 48-40 with 9:15 left, Redd scored the next five points.

Northwestern, which shot just 29 percent, never got closer than 11 points again.

”If you shoot 5-for-29 in the second half, you can’t beat the Little Sisters of the Poor,” O’Neill said.

The loss was the Wildcats’ fourth in a row and 16th in their last 17 games.

The biggest thing for Ohio State was to keep pace with the Big Ten’s other contenders.

”Any time you can win by double figures in this conference, you have to be very happy,” O’Brien said. ”We’re having a good season, knowing full well there’s a lot of games left to be played.”

O’Neill said the Buckeyes deserved their high ranking.

”They’re a good team. They deserve to be the No. 6 team in the country,” he said. ”They’ve got a shot at the title if Michigan State stumbles.”

Three-time All-American Jerry Lucas, who won championships in high school, college, the Olympics and the NBA, was honored at halftime when his No. 11 was retired. It was the first time that Ohio State had retired a basketball number and only the second time overall. Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin’s No. 45 was retired last football season.