Liddell leads Ohio State’s No.13 ahead of Northwest 95-87

Northwestern forward Elyjah Williams, right, climbs to shoot past <a class=Ohio State forward EJ Liddell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday January 9, 2022. (AP Photo / Paul Vernon)” title=”Northwestern forward Elyjah Williams, right, climbs to shoot past Ohio State forward EJ Liddell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday January 9, 2022. (AP Photo / Paul Vernon)” loading=”lazy”/>

Northwestern forward Elyjah Williams, right, climbs to shoot past Ohio State forward EJ Liddell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday January 9, 2022. (AP Photo / Paul Vernon)

PA

EJ Liddell scored a career-high 34 points and the Ohio State No.13 defeated Northwestern 95-87 on Sunday.

Liddell scored 17 points in the first five minutes, including a career-high five to 3 points during that span. He set a personal best in goals scored, finishing 12 of 20 on the field.

His production helped Ohio State (10-3, 4-1 Big Ten Conference) shoot 67% in the first half. The Buckeyes were leading 51-39 at halftime, which matched their score after a 67-51 loss to Indiana on Thursday.

The Wildcats (8-5, 1-3) reduced the deficit from 12 points at halftime to six with 37 seconds left.

“We knew it would be a challenge on the defensive end of the ball,” said Ohio State coach Jake Diebler. “We needed everything tonight.

The Buckeyes scored just one field goal in the 6:13 final, but fought off Northwestern’s attempt to return to the free throw line.

Ohio State knocked down 11 free kicks in the last three minutes and finished 26 of 27 from the line.

Malaki Branham added 24 points and shot 13 of 14 on free throws.

Three Wildcats scored at least 20 points as their losing streak extended to three. Ty Berry led Northwestern with 23 points while Chase Audige and Pete Nance each have 20.

“The first five minutes of the game really told a story,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins. “I was very unhappy with our defense at the start of the game.

BRANHAM CONTINUES A HOT SERIES

Just seven days earlier, Branham scored 35 points to break Ohio State’s freshman points record in a conference game.

He went on to lead the team in scorers the last two games, and scored in double digits for the third straight outing shooting 62.5% on Sunday.

“I feel great,” Branham said. “I really have to stay consistent. “

LIDDELL RETURNS IN FORM

Liddell came out of a slump early, hitting his first six shots, five from deep. He had shot 19.2% in his last two games before posting a 60% clip on Sunday.

He also had the 400th rebound and the 100th block of his career.

“A lot of people shot me after two bad games,” Liddell said. “But the truth is, I just held my head up high and kept playing with confidence and doing what I can do.”

OHIO STATE COACHES UNAVAILABLE

Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann and assistant Ryan Pedon were unavailable due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to the Ohio State.

Jake Diebler was the interim coach of the Buckeyes. Diebler became an assistant in 2019 and also spent 2014-16 as the team’s video coordinator. He is the brother of Jon Diebler, the Buckeyes’ all-time 3-point record holder.

“This game has been so good for me,” said Jake Diebler. “There is a deep-rooted passion and love for this game.”

BIG PICTURE

Northwestern: For the second game in a row, the Wildcats shot over 41.7% both from the field and by 3 points. They just couldn’t keep up with Ohio State, allowing for season highs in scoring and field goal percentage.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes shot 56.9 percent after posting a season-worst 30.8 percent in Indiana on Thursday.

“It was only a matter of time before we were going to play better offensively,” said Jake Diebler. “Our guys haven’t lost confidence. We stayed with what we know.

FOLLOWING

Northwest: hosts Maryland Wednesday.

Ohio State: Trip to Wisconsin Thursday.

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More AP College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https: // twitter. com / AP_Top25



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