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EVANSTON, Ill. -- No John Shurna. Top-ranked Ohio State coming into town. A 10.5 point underdog. Winless against ranked opponents this season.
No chance for Northwestern on Saturday, right?
Someone forgot to tell the Wildcats.
Northwestern slowed the game down, limited everyone around Ohio State star freshman Jared Sullinger, even led at times and trailed by only 27-25 after one half at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday.
Without leading scorer Shurna, who continued to have concussion symptoms, Northwestern coach Bill Carmody’s strategy was to make the game a low-possession one, giving Ohio State as few chances with the ball as possible The Wildcats took their time possession after possession, often waiting until the shot clock reached single digits or was about to expire before shooting.
Shurna’s replacement Mike Capocci did his best Shurna impression. He had a team-high seven points in the first half. He also had three rebounds, one assist and one block.
As for Ohio State, Sullinger got his during the first half. He scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. But the story was the other Buckeyes not getting theirs. Ohio State’s four other starters combined for nine points. If it wasn’t for reserve guard Aaron Craft’s eight points, Northwestern may have taken the halftime lead.
There’s still 20 minutes to play, but Northwestern has the biggest win in its program’s history in its sights.