Koufos scores 17 to lead Ohio State over Northwestern 62-51
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Kosta Koufos did the scoring from the inside in the first half and Jon Diebler got the points from the outside in the second as Ohio State defeated Northwestern 62-51 in its Big Ten home opener on Sunday.
Koufos scored all but two of his game-high 17 points before intermission to help the Buckeyes (11-3, 2-0) to a 12-point halftime lead, 37-25. Diebler scored 10 of his 15, including three 3-pointers, in the second half.
Evan Turner had 16 points for Ohio State and Jamar Butler, who scored a career-best 32 in Thursday?s win at Illinois, was 0 for 7 from the field for no points but had a game-high 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
Craig Moore led the Wildcats (5-6, 0-2) with 16 points while Kevin Coble added 11 and Michael Thompson had 10.
Ohio State has won 18 straight conference games, including three in the conference tournament, since a 72-69 loss at Wisconsin last Jan. 9. The Buckeyes defeated Northwestern for the 16th straight time and have not lost to the Wildcats at home in 25 games since 1978.
Northwestern rebounded from the halftime deficit to pull to within 43-39 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Coble and Moore and a basket and free throw from Sterling Williams. But Diebler pushed the Buckeyes’ lead to eight with a four-point play, making a free throw after being fouled by Thompson on a 3-point shot.
The Buckeyes got the lead to a dozen again before the Wildcats rallied to 51-44. But Othello Hunter slammed an inbounds pass from Butler with 6:10 remaining and Koufos followed with another dunk.
The seven-foot Koufos took advantage of a four-inch height advantage for a near-perfect first half. He hit his first five field goals, including a 3-pointer from the right corner, and all four free throws while also grabbing eight rebounds, one less than Northwestern?s total. Koufos finished 6 of 10 from the floor and collected 12 rebounds.
He didn?t miss until a 10-foot jumper with 1:25 left in the first half. Koufos followed the shot with a tip-in attempt that didn?t go in but David Lighty was there for the rebound basket to give the Buckeyes their biggest lead of the half at 34-19.
Northwestern trailed 23-19 with seven minutes left in the half but went more than six minutes without a score, missing six shots and committing a turnover during the stretch.
The drought ended when Thompson made a four-point play, hitting from behind the arc and making a free throw after being fouled by Diebler to make the score 34-23. Moore had 10 points by intermission for the Wildcats while Ohio State?s Evan Turner had all nine of his first-half points in the opening nine minutes.
Northwestern shot 31 percent (18-of-58) from the floor and made nine of 32 three-pointers (28.1 percent). The Wildcats were outrebounded 46-23. Ohio State shot 47.9 percent (23-of-48) and was 7 of 17 on 3-pointers (41.2 percent).