COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Ohio State coach Thad Matta pushed the right buttons during and after halftime to help his Buckeyes rally for a 71-63 win over Northwestern on Tuesday night.
The Buckeyes trailed for most of the night but used a 15-2 run to erase a nine-point deficit and take the lead with six minutes to go in the second half.
A move to a full-court press keyed Ohio State's surge, but so did something Matta told his team at halftime with Northwestern leading 71-63.
''I feel like the biggest thing was we just had to wake up,'' said Trevor Thompson, who scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Buckeyes. ''Coach said we have to lose ourselves in playing for Ohio State and lose ourselves as a team. I feel like in the second half we did a really good job of having fun and enjoying ourselves and playing as a team.''
That's a message Matta has tried to get across since he arrived in Columbus 12 years ago.
''When you lose yourself in just playing the game of basketball and whatever happens happens, we're a lot better basketball team,'' Matta said.
''I was very animated at halftime in terms of that. Just play the game. You guys work so hard in practice. This is the fun time, where you get the rewards to it. Fortunately we stuck with it and were able to finish it out.''
Thompson was one of five Buckeyes (15-10, 7-5) to score in double figures.
Jaquan Lyle led all scorers with 16 points while Marc Loving had 15, Keita Bates-Diop had 11 and Jae'Sean Tate tallied 10.
Tre Demps and Bryant McIntosh scored 14 points apiece, Alex Olah had 11 and Scottie Lindsey added 10 for Northwestern (16-9, 4-8).
Ohio State snapped a two-game losing streak while Northwestern lost for the sixth time in its last seven games.
The Wildcats were up 48-39 following Olah's jumper at the 10:27 mark.
Tate started the decisive run with a layup and Bates-Diop finished it with a jumper and a pair of free throws that put the Buckeyes on top 54-50 with five minutes left.
Lindsey tied the game at 56 with a 3-pointer a little more than a minute later, but Lyle answered with his own trey to put the Buckeyes up for good
''Lyle hit the biggest shot of the game I thought,'' Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ''That's not necessarily the strength of his game but give him credit. He stepped up and made a huge 3 when they needed it and we were never able to recover after that.''
Northwestern: Ohio native Gavin Skelly had seven rebounds for the Wildcats.
Ohio State: Lyle and Thompson returned to the starting lineup at point guard and center, respectively, after A.J. Harris and Daniel Giddens started in their place for the previous four games.
Northwestern plays host to Illinois on Saturday night.
Ohio State plays at Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.
SAME OLD STORY
Ohio State beat Northwestern for the 11th time in a row overall and the 34th straight time at home. The Wildcats have not won in Columbus since February 1977.
Ohio State entered as the second-worst free-throw shooting team in the Big Ten, but the Buckeyes went 19 for 23 against the Wildcats, including 12 for 12 after Lyle's 3 gave them the lead.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
''We knew they had (the press) in their repertoire so we did prepare for it,'' Collins said, ''but preparing for their length and their size and their crowd is different than doing it in practice.''