After arguably the worst performance of the season against the hated rival Indiana Hoosiers on Thursday night, the Illini look to get back in the win column vs. Ohio State on Tuesday night at State Farm Center.
Ohio State comes into the contest at 11-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten conference after snapping its five game losing streak against Iowa on Saturday. In those prior five defeats the Buckeyes lost by seven points or fewer in all the games, and had conference-leading Purdue on the ropes. So even though they lost five in a row, it wasn’t like they were getting blown out.
The Buckeyes are led by potential Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate Brice Sensabaugh, leading OSU in scoring at 17.0 points per game. He is joined by senior Justice Sueing, who is averaging 13.1 points per game, and junior Zed Key (12.1 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game).
Ohio State is averaging 77.1 points per game (third in the Big Ten), and they like to shoot the three-pointer, and they shoot it well at 40.7%, but they only shoot 42.2% from inside the arc, so the Illini must keep the Buckeyes off of the three point line, and force them to take tough contested two-point shots.
On defense the Buckeyes are giving up 66.1 points per game, which is eighth in the Big Ten, and teams are shooting 40.4% against them. But the Buckeyes thrive at defending the three, leading the conference in percentage against, so the Illini — like in recent games — need to work the ball inside and get more post touches for Dain Dainja and Co.
Ohio State also rebounds it well, averaging 39.3 rebounds a game (second-best in conference). So, get away from the isolation ball that hurt the Illini against Indiana, and make sure to get quality shots.
Hopefully the Illini got their bad game out of them and can play like they did when they were on that four-game winning streak before Thursday’s loss. Ohio State will be beaming with confidence after 16-point win over Iowa on Saturday.
The Illini are going to need to get off to a good start, and feed off the crowd, and hopefully with that they can get back in the win column before a rematch with Wisconsin on Saturday in Madison.