Lenzelle Smith scored a season-high 24 points, Deshaun Thomas added 19 and No. 16 Ohio State used a late run to beat Northwestern 63-53 on Thursday night.
The Buckeyes (21-7, 11-5 Big Ten) moved one-half game ahead of Michigan and took sole possession of fourth place in the Big Ten with another difficult win over a team that's given it fits in recent years.
This time, they led by 11 points early in the second half and regrouped after Northwestern took the lead, sending the Wildcats (13-16, 4-12) to their sixth straight loss and eighth in nine games.
Northwestern led by a point twice in the second half and was up 49-48 with about 4 minutes remaining. But Ohio State outscored the Wildcats 15-4 the rest of the way.
Thomas scored six points during that stretch, and the Buckeyes took advantage of three turnovers to come away with a tight win.