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Illinois extends winning streak to four

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The Illini escaped the Buckeyes for a real road win.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

And now we’re streaking.

Illinois extended its longest winning streak since Nov. 2017 with a road win at Ohio State on Thursday night. After losing a December matchup with the Buckeyes at the United Center, the Illini claimed their first true road win since Feb. 25, 2018 at Rutgers with a 63-56 win over Ohio State.

Even with foul trouble and a road game, the Illini (10-16, 6-8) prevailed at Value City Arena. Illinois had three guards with at least two fouls in the first half and struggled to make any shots for minutes at a time, but Illinois still won and pulled within a half-game of Ohio State in the conference standings — almost in the top half of the Big Ten.

Most amazing about the Illini’s win without one of its best players was the fact that it pulled one out on the road where Brad Underwood’s squad has struggled since joining the Illini in 2017. Before Thursday, Illinois had only won three games away from State Farm Center over the past two years (at Rutgers, vs. Missouri in St. Louis, vs. Maryland at MSG). And Illinois was able to put a stop to OSU’s streaky play recently, with each time entering Thursday winners of four of five games.

The first 10 minutes of the first half ticked by without much action. Illinois and Ohio State (16-8, 6-7) traded blows, neither team racing out to much of a lead until Trent Frazier spearheaded a 10-2 run for the Illini. Frazier contributed eight of his 10 first half points during the run that put Illinois ahead by nine. The sophomore has averaged 18.5 points over the last four contests and looked like he was well on his way before checking out of the first half three minutes early due to a knee injury. Yet, Illinois clung to a 30-27 lead at the break.

Frazier was back to start the second half, but couldn’t muster many baskets — none of the Illini could. A five-minute drought towards the beginning of the half stalled any more runs for Illinois. The Illini got a huge push from their freshmen in the final minutes to secure just their win away from Champaign this season. The backcourt duo of Frazier and Dosunmu each pitched in 15 points a piece, seven combined rebounds and six combined assists. Giorgi Bezhanishvili also posted a respectable 13 points and seven rebounds himself. Illinois had not won in Columbus since Feb. 2009.

MOMENTS THAT MATTER

  • After spurring the run that gave Illinois its largest first half lead, Trent Frazier came up limping after a drive down the lane. He sat out the last few minutes of the first half before returning to start the second.
  • With 29 seconds left, freshman Ayo Dosunmu sank the dagger from three, putting Illinois up by six and closing the door on an Ohio State comeback.

SOUND SMART

Giorgi Egwu.

TWEET OF THE GAME

Also, it’s a few days old but deserves to be seen again:

HE SAID IT

Frazier stormed back out to the court from the locker room the second half, and his teammate Adonis De La Rosa had some stuff to say about his injury.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Frazier’s first half was full of highlights like this. It was just one of those days.

WHO’S NEXT

The Illini don’t play this weekend, but stay on the road with a matchup against Wisconsin on Monday night at the Kohl Center. Illinois lost to Wisconsin 72-60 at State Farm Center on Jan. 23, but have been fairly hot since.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on FS1.

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