Buckeyes surge past Northwestern

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Associated Press

EVANSTON, Ill. - Ohio State surged as Northwestern sputtered.

The Buckeyes closed Saturday's game on a 22-1 run, rallying from eight points down to win 65-52.

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The Wildcats (9-10, 2-5 Big Ten) failed to score a basket over the final 7:15, enabling the Buckeyes (14-7, 3-4) to erase a 51-43 deficit and then surge ahead.

''We had the lead, at home, and we were up eight. It all went downhill from there. They got a lift; give them credit. Our defense just went away,'' Wildcats coach Bill Carmody said.

J.J. Sullinger scored six of his 15 points during the closing spurt as the Buckeyes countered a 13-2 run that had given the Wildcats their first lead with 11:18 remaining.

''I'm pleased with the way we fought back and got back in the game,'' said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. ''Northwestern had really established itself, especially on the offensive end. We had to re-challenge ourselves to get back up and keep pressure on the basketball.''

The Buckeyes went ahead to stay 52-51 on back-to-back baskets by Sullinger.

''I couldn't be happier for our guys,'' Matta said. ''I told them after the game that this was one of our best team wins. We came through this situation before and weren't able to get over the hump.''

Vedran Vukusic had 15 points and Davor Duvancic added 14 for the Wildcats.

Matt Sylvester scored 12 points and Jamar Butler and Tony Stockman added 10 apiece for Ohio State, which won its second straight following a four-game losing streak.

Ohio State led 29-27 at halftime and widened the margin to 39-35 on Sylvester's 3-pointer before Northwestern surged ahead by eight. That was it for the Wildcats' offense.

''It was hard to see it end that way,'' Carmody said. ''I did not know what more we could have done to make it work. Ohio State came to life in the last seven minutes. Our offense just petered away.

''We are lacking the zest that is needed to win,'' he said. ''The opportunity is there. It was a hard game to lose. I mean, it was still a one-point game with five minutes to go. I don't have an answer.''

Northwestern, coming off a 75-74 overtime win over No. 23 Iowa, has lost five of its last six.

No. 1 Illinois 89, Minnesota 66

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Roger Powell Jr. scored 21 points and Deron Williams added 18, leading top-ranked Illinois to an 89-66 victory over Minnesota on Saturday.

The Illini (21-0, 7-0 Big Ten) opened the game with a 10-1 run and stretched their conference winning streak to 17 games, tying a school record set from 1914-16. James Augustine had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Luther Head scored 10.