Ohio State's Aaron Craft controls the ball as Northwestern's Reggie Hearn defends. OSU needs to beat Michigan State to share the Big Ten title.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Jared Sullinger banked in a turnaround shot with 3.1 seconds left Wednesday night and No. 10 Ohio State recovered after squandering a 13-point second-half lead to beat Northwestern 75-73.
Sullinger's game-winner completed a 22-point, 18-rebound night for the Buckeyes' sophomore star.
Northwestern's Alex Marcotullio tied the game on a 3-pointer with 7.7 seconds to go as the Wildcats went on a late 8-0 run.
But after a timeout, Aaron Craft got the ball to Sullinger and he hit the go-ahead shot from the right of the basket. Northwestern's John Shurna came down court and threw up a desperation shot that hit the rim at the buzzer.
Ohio State (24-6, 12-5), which had lost three of five, has a chance to tie for the Big Ten title if it can win at No. 5 Michigan State in Sunday's regular- season finale. The Spartans already have at least a share of the championship, despite losing to Indiana on Tuesday night.
Deshaun Thomas added 19 points and 10 rebounds and Craft scored 14 points with four 3-pointers for the Buckeyes, who outrebounded Northwestern 44-18, including 20-6 on the offensive boards.
Drew Crawford scored 23 points and Shurna, Northwestern's career scoring leader playing in his last regular-season home game, had 22 for the Wildcats (17-12, 7-10) as their hopes for the school's first-ever NCAA tournament took another hit. They have one regular-season game left, at Iowa.
Ohio State had beaten the Wildcats 87-54 in the league opener in late December, but this one was certainly more competitive -- just not on the boards.
The Buckeyes led 73-65 with about 3 minutes left before Northwestern rallied as Dave Sobolweski hit a 3-pointer and Reggie Cobb made two free throws. Cobb later came up with a steal and called a timeout, setting up Marcotullio's game-tying 3-pointer.
The Buckeyes hit their first six field goal attempts and dominated the rebounding 22-5 in the first half with Sullinger and Thomas controlling the inside.
Sullinger had 13 points and eight rebounds and Thomas had 12 points and five rebounds as Ohio State shot 59 percent from the field. The Wildcats, who play three guards and two forwards, had no one to match up with the Buckeyes' inside duo.
Ohio State led 39-29 at halftime.