Ohio State did not let a late lead slip away again against Northwestern as the No. 21 Buckeyes defeated the Wildcats 81-71 on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio.

After letting a 13-point advantage shrink to 67-66 with 4:21 to play, the Buckeyes (10-3, 4-3 Big Ten) scored 12 unanswered points for a 79-66 lead with 1:05 left. The surge started when, coming out of a timeout, Justin Ahrens hit his fourth 3-pointer to extend Ohio State's lead to 70-66.

The Wildcats (6-5, 3-4) wound up with their fourth consecutive defeat. In the teams' first meeting this season on Dec. 26, the Wildcats trailed by seven with seven minutes left before winning 71-70.

Junior guard Duane Washington Jr. scored a career-high 23 points for the Buckeyes on Wednesday. He had 22 vs. Rutgers on Dec. 23.

Northwestern sophomore Chase Audige had a career-best 25 points, bettering the 24 he scored for William & Mary in 2019 vs. UNC Wilmington.

Miller Kopp scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half for the Wildcats.

Audige had 21 points in the first half, but the Wildcats trailed 42-33 at the break. He got off to a sizzling start, scoring the opening 11 points for the Wildcats and 15 of the first 17 by making 7 of 8 from the floor. In the previous two games, he hit 4 of 18.

He got little support in the first half. Kopp, averaging 13.8 points per game, had only two points and Boo Buie (10.3 ppg) did not score. Audige was the only Northwestern starter to make a field goal through 20 minutes. Buie finished with five points.

Ohio State plays at No. 14 Illinois on Saturday. The Wildcats host fifth-ranked Iowa on Sunday, which will be the sixth straight ranked opponent for Northwestern.

--Field Level Media

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