EVANSTON, Ill. — Boo Buie knows Northwestern could wind up ranked next week. He and his teammates have loftier objectives.
Miller Kopp scored 23 points, Buie had 14 and Northwestern beat No. 23 Ohio State 71-70 on Saturday. Pete Nance added 10 points for the Wildcats (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten), who won their fourth straight.
“It feels good to be ranked, but we’re still hungry,” Buie said. “We’re not really looking for rankings, we’re just looking to win games.
E.J. Liddell led Ohio State (7-2, 1-2) with 15 points. Kyle Young added 14 points and Seth Towns had 11 for the Buckeyes, who had won two straight and four of five.
Northwestern is 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since the 1967-68 season. The Wildcats were 3-17 in the league last season.
“These guys have more belief than they had in themselves last year,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “That’s a testament to their hard work in the offseason.”
The Buckeyes opened the second half on a 13-7 run before Northwestern rallied with a 7-1 run. Ohio State led by seven after halftime, but Northwestern came back with an 11-2 run.
Kopp hit a jumper to pull Northwestern within 66-65 before Chase Audige’s 3 put the Wildcats ahead with 1:48 left. Young’s jumper tied it before Buie’s 3 gave Northwestern a 71-68 lead with 1:04 remaining.
“Fortunately, it went in,” Buie said. “But huge shoutout credit to Kopp. He really did his thing tonight and kept us in it the whole night. I just helped out. We have a lot of guys who can go.”
Young hit two free throws to bring Ohio State within one with 47 seconds left. Duane Washington Jr. missed a driving layup for Ohio State with five seconds left.
“Guys executed it well. We just didn’t make the shot,” Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said.
Buie missed a free throw before Liddell missed a long 3 before the final buzzer.
Northwestern shot 48% from the field to the Buckeyes’ 44%. Ohio State outrebounded the Wildcats 40-26 but made four 3s to Northwestern’s six.
Ohio State scored the first eight points of the game before Northwestern responded with 14-2 run. Kopp scored 12 of Northwestern’s first 14 points and had 14 at halftime. Nance hit two free throws with 0.4 seconds left before halftime to tie it 34-34.
HE SAID IT
“We struggled a little bit with some of their traps of E.J.,” Holtmann said. “All in all, we just weren’t moving the ball.”
Northwestern defeated ranked teams in a week for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Wildcats upset then-No. 4 Michigan State 79-65 on Sunday for their first win over a top-five team since beating Magic Johnson and the fourth-ranked Spartans on Jan. 27, 1979.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes stumbled after coming off a big victory Wednesday, rallying from a 16-point second-half deficit to upset No. 11 Rutgers 80-68.
Northwestern: The Wildcats are showing promise after going 8-23 last season.
Ohio State: Hosts Nebraska on Wednesday.
Northwestern: Visits No. 4 Iowa on Tuesday.