Freshman Lyle's triple-double leads Ohio State past Rutgers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) JaQuan Lyle did his part in the first half to keep Ohio State in the game against Rutgers on Wednesday night with a double-double, even though the Buckeyes trailed by two.
His teammates finally got untracked in the second half, turning that two-point deficit into a 94-68 rout.
Lyle, a freshman, finished with a triple-double as he had 16 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and 11 assists - two off his best.
''He was the straw that stirred the drink tonight, no question about it,'' Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said.
Lyle said the coaches made him aware when he re-entered the game with 6:44 to play that he was a few assists shy of the triple-double.
''The coaches told me I needed four more,'' he said. ''The guys helped me out with finishing plays.
''I'm making shots, creating for my teammates. It's confidence from them. They believe in me.''
Five other were in double figures for the Buckeyes (12-6, 4-1 Big Ten): Keita Bates-Diop, Jae'Sean Tate and Kam Williams had 14, Marc Loving 12 and Trevor Thompson 11.
Corey Sanders had 20 points, 17 in the first half, when the Scarlet Knights (6-12, 0-5) took a 41-39 lead.
But the Buckeyes outscored the Scarlet Knights 55-27 in the second half, beginning with a 13-0 run at the onset.
''It wasn't a lot of x' and o's at halftime, it was more of challenging guys to do a better job of what we needed to do, especially on the defensive end,'' Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.
Tate started the rally with a two field goals in the lane and Thompson followed with consecutive dunks.
''It definitely jump started us,'' Tate said. ''We were getting so deep in the paint because we were at another level on the defensive end. We got a couple steals and turnovers and we got out in transition.''
Loving hit a 3-pointer and Lyle made two free throws before Bishop Daniels responded with a layup for Rutgers to end the streak but it was only a temporary reprieve.
''Once they taste a little blood and a little letdown, they get after you,'' Jordan said. ''They did a good job early in the second half doing that, taking us out.''
Rutgers: This is the Scarlet Knights' first trip to Columbus in their second season of Big Ten play. Rutgers dropped to 1-2 against the Buckeyes all-time.
Ohio State: Lyle entered the game second nationally among freshmen with 84 assists.
The first time the teams met in Big Ten play was nearly a year ago, Feb. 8 at Rutgers, when OSU freshman D'Angelo Russell also had a triple double with 23 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. He later was the second pick of the 2015 NBA draft to the Los Angeles Lakers. ''JaQuan was in a groove, kind of like D'Angelo was last year in terms of what he got done out there,'' Matta said.
Besides Sanders, Omari Grier (14), D.J. Foreman (13) and Daniels (12) also scored in double figures for the Scarlet Knights. ''We did a great job in the first half. We were fighting,'' Jordan said. ''We showed some physicality. We were organized. Corey had a nice first half for us.''
ON THE DEFENSIVE
Matta put A.J. Harris on Sanders in the second half with specific instructions, ''You're going to guard the guy who had all the points. Do not let him score.''
Rutgers host Purdue on Monday.
Ohio State plays at No. 3 Maryland on Saturday.