Just like the shoving match that broke out in Columbus with a few minutes left in the game, Wednesday night's matchup against Ohio State was a brawl.
In the end, though, the Wildcats couldn't land nearly as many punches as the Buckeyes and lost 76-60.
Here are our rapid reactions following Northwestern's fourth-straight loss:
Did you see that? Following a missed Ohio State shot, Nikola Cerina and Amir Williams got tangled up out of bounds. Cerina responded by shoving Williams and ultimately throwing a punch that didn't land. The two teams then mixed it up again near the free throw line as LaQuinton Ross shoved Cerina in the back. Though the teams would be separated before anything terrible happened, both Ross and Cerina were tossed after a lengthy official review. The teams then shot ten straight free throws (four by OSU, six by NU) before play resumed. In all, 16 minutes of real time passed before the two teams got back on the court.
Offensive player of the game: Drew Crawford. After a severely disappointing performance against Minnesota, Crawford responded in a big way against the Buckeyes. He rattled off 13 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers. He'd end the night with a game-high 22 points in all, surpassing his season average by more than six points. Given what Ohio State had been doing recently to its opponents' leading scorers, this was an impressive feat. Unfortunately, the Cats couldn't rally around their star as Tre Demps was the only other player in double-figures.
Defensive player of the game: N/A. For a team that prides itself on making things difficult for its opponents on the defensive end, Northwestern really struggled on Wednesday night. After a solid opening stretch that put the Cats up 28-21 with 5:49 to go in the first half, they let OSU go on 16-5 run to end the half. Things wouldn't get much better in the second, as the Buckeyes ended up with 76 total points. No Northwestern player had more than five rebounds in the loss, and the team as a whole could only muster two steals and one block.
Turning point: Points off a turnover. A quick 5-0 run at the start of the second half forced coach Chris Collins to call a timeout before even a minute had passed. Out of the timeout, JerShon Cobb slowly dribbled toward the left corner and telegraphed a pass that was picked off by Aaron Craft. Craft tossed the outlet pass to Sam Thompson, who laid it off for a one-handed jam by Lenzelle Smith Jr. Northwestern wouldn't get the deficit back to single digits for the rest of the game.
Xs and Os: When Ohio State pulled away early in the second half, it was all about driving and kicking. Having such a short bench seemed to leave Northwestern tired, and the Buckeye guards responded by taking the ball right to the hoop against them. That led to a bunch of open threes from the wings and the corners for Smith and Thompson. On the other end, Northwestern tried to get open looks off of its own drives and kicks, but the OSU bigs did such a good job of help defense in the middle that the guards could stick close to the shooters in the corners.
Key Stat: 46 percent. Both Northwestern and OSU hit 23 of 50 shots from the field, and yet, the game was decided by a 16-point margin. The reason? The Buckeyes shot 15 more free throws and made 14 more than the Wildcats. They attacked the offensive glass and forced Northwestern turnovers, which gave them far more opportunities to score. Just a few weeks ago, Northwestern was winning games shooting about 30 percent. Now, they're getting manhandled while shooting 46 percent.