COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Although Jae'Sean Tate is a sophomore he is one of the most experienced players for Ohio State and he used his leadership, as well as 17 points and 10 rebounds, to lead the Buckeyes to a 67-54 win over Northern Illinois on Wednesday.
Coach Thad Matta liked the way Tate rallied the Buckeyes (5-5) in the second half when the Huskies kept the outcome in doubt.
''For once tonight, Jae'Sean Tate during a timeout was very vocal,'' he said. ''I hadn't seen that before. That energized us a little bit and connected us a little bit.
''After (the game) I said, `That's who you are and that's who you need to be.' "
Tate gave the Buckeyes the lead for good on a 3-point play to make it 47-44 with 11:33 to play after JaQuan Lyle stole the ball and fed Tate in the paint, starting a 10-2 run.
''It's an extraordinary play,'' Tate said. ''That gave us the juice and the intensity to extend the lead.''
Keita Bates-Diop had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Trevor Thompson scored 10 for the Buckeyes.
Marin Maric had a career-high 17 points for Northern Illinois (7-2) and Marshawn Wilson added 16.
''Our guys competed hard. They just had too many more weapons than us tonight and they made big shots,'' Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery said.
The Huskies shot a season-low 26.8 percent (15 of 56) from the field.
''Their defense obviously affected us,'' Montgomery said. ''They're long and athletic. Six minutes to go and we're down only six and an opportunity to cut the lead, you have to shoot the ball well.''
Thompson said defense won the game because the Buckeyes hit 39 percent (20 for 51) from the floor.
''At times our shots weren't falling, but we just kept playing defense,'' Thompson said. ''That's the biggest key for us. When we're not hitting shots, we continue to play defense. We don't lax up on screens, everybody plays together . Once (Tate) hit that three-point play, we started `D-ing' up and we started rolling after that.''
Ohio State led 33-31 in a choppy first half that featured four ties and four lead changes.
The Buckeyes knew Northern Illinois had out-rebounded its opponents in seven of the first eight games and wanted to be the aggressor. ''We knew we had to give them a hard first punch, play hard and stick to the game plan,'' Thompson said.
Tate said Ohio State picked up the intensity after halftime. ''When we came out we just had that Buckeye basketball sense to us; getting on the ground for loose balls, being in the gaps, we just played harder and we got the win.''
Northern Illinois: The Huskies are 7-47 all-time against current Big Ten teams. They have lost 13 straight games vs. the conference since beating since a 55-51 home victory against Wisconsin on Dec. 14, 1999.
Ohio State: Marc Loving has made at least one three-pointer in nine of 10 games this season. His only made three in six attempts gave the Buckeyes a 39-35 lead with 15:37 to play. Ohio State won the previous meeting with the Huskies, 106-99 in Columbus, on Dec. 8, 1969. The Buckeyes are 55-13 vs. Mid-American Conference schools.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies are home against Florida International on Saturday.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes face No. 4 Kentucky on Saturday in the CBSSports Challenge at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.