No.19 Ohio State Comes From Behind to Beat No.23 Illinois.
Columbus Ohio was the place to be, namely the Value City Arena. I know the Arnold sports fest was scaled back major league. But the game between the 19th ranked Buckeyes and 23rd ranked Illinois Fighting Illini went on as scheduled on Thursday Night.
This BIG-10 battle did not disappoint at all, Ohio State won the game 71-63 in come from behind fashion and you can credit the bench and the defense in the 2nd half. Ohio State head coach Chris Holtman, had this to say afterwards. "Our three point shooting was bad but we won the game, we still have one more to go against Michigan State on the road."
Ohio State had a huge game form three players, two of them came of the bench. Kaleb Wesson, he had 19 points, five rebounds, two steals and one block. E.J. Liddell tied a career high 17 points as part of a double-double with 11 rebounds to go with it. He also had two assists, one steal and one block, he needed every bit of that. C.J. Walker, he had 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals, he had himself.
The Illini had it's big guns reduced to a squirt on Thursday night. Head coach Brad Underwood said afterwards, "our team did not play well in the 2nd half of the game. Now we will have to wait to see if we got the double-bye for the tournament or not."
Illinois only had two stars of this game. Ayo Dosunmu, he had 21 points, five rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block, not enough against the Ohio State defense. Andres Feliz, he had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the game.
Ohio State won this game despite only going 3-15 for 20.0% form beyond the arc. But they made up for it at the free throw line going 24-28 for 85.7%. The Buckeyes trailed 37-30 at the half and then Ohio State's defense showed up ready to play in the 2nd half. The Illini had 14 turnovers in the game and the bad 2nd half shooting hurt Illinois in the game. Illinois shot better form the field going 24-55 for 43.6%. They were just a fraction better form beyond the arc going 6-22 for 27.3%, the Illini only went 9-10 form the free throw line for 90.0%, my issue is they only had 10 free throw attempts all night.
The Illini, can not win a share of the BIG-10 title but they can still clinch a double bye for the BIG-10 tournament which starts in about a week. The Fighting Illini close out the season at home against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday and they can be a dangerous team.
As for the Ohio State Buckeyes, they have to go on the road to East Lansing to face the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday. Ohio State has won 9 of there last 11 games after hitting a rough spot at the midway point of the season. The question is can the Buckeyes keep the momentum going, they will move up slightly in the polls, but they are looking ahead to the BIG-10 tournament which they can be a Darkhorse to win it all.