COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—There was no letdown for No. 24 Louisville.
Bryant Northern and Reece Gaines scored all 32 of their points in the second half and overtime as the Cardinals rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to beat Ohio State 72-64 Saturday.
The comeback even surprised Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, who expected his team to struggle in its first game since an 81-63 upset of then-No. 14 Kentucky on Dec. 28.
“At times after a big win, when the effort’s there and the execution is not, 99 out of 100 teams on the road are not going to come away with the win,” Pitino said.
“This is a great win for us because they were totally outplaying us in the first half,” he said. “I’m real excited about our ball club winning this game because we didn’t play well tonight, except that we showed tremendous heart and character.”
Northern hit a jumper with 3:15 remaining to give the Cardinals (8-1) the lead for good at 60-58. After Zach Williams made one of two free throws to pull the Buckeyes (7-4) within one, Gaines hit an off-balance 12-foot jumper to make it 62-59.
The Buckeyes missed a chance to score when Shun Jenkins blew a layup. Gaines then drove into the lane and found Luke Whitehead for a dunk and a five-point lead, Louisville’s largest to that point.
Ohio State tried to go inside on its next possession, but Gaines intercepted Sean Connolly’s pass under the basket with 1:23 remaining.
Gaines made two free throws and Northern was 5-of-6 from the line over the final 42 seconds to seal the win.
Unable to hit the outside shot, Gaines continually drove to the basket in the second half to create opportunities for his teammates or draw fouls.
“It’s never really my night shooting the ball because I don’t get open shots,” Gaines said. “I played a different position in the second half and tried to be more aggressive and get everybody involved.”
Northern finished with 18 points and Gaines had 14 for the Cardinals, who snapped Ohio State’s four-game winning streak.
The Buckeyes’ four losses this season have been against ranked teams. The other losses came against Alabama, Pittsburgh and Duke, now ranked Nos. 1-3 in the nation.
“We had a very difficult job containing Northern and Gaines, and we missed many opportunities, especially in the second half,” Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien said. “We had our chance, but just couldn’t finish it.”
Marvin Stone, the Cardinals’ leading scorer at 18.7 points a game, failed to score before fouling out with 58 seconds left in regulation. He went 0-for-5 from the field and didn’t get to the foul line.
The Cardinals scored just two points in the game’s first seven minutes and 10 through 17 to fall behind 27-10. Ohio State led 32-18 at halftime by holding Louisville to 6-of-26 shooting from the field.
The Buckeyes were 6-of-21 in the second half as Louisville slowly trimmed its deficit behind Gaines.
“They just wear you down,” O’Brien said. “They have the ability to play so many guys, it takes its toll. We lacked discipline in the second half and couldn’t run our offense.”
Brent Darby led Ohio State with 24 points and played all 45 minutes. Connolly had 13 points in 44 minutes.
Velimir Radinovic added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Williams scored 11 points for the Buckeyes.
Ellis Myles had 10 of his 12 points in the first half for Louisville.