COLUMBUS, Ohio — Entering Sunday, Ohio State hadn’t won a game in 36 days.
That changed after 40 minutes in Columbus, as Illinois fell to the freefalling Buckeyes, 72-60.
It was a sleepy first half for Illinois and, ultimately, they weren’t able to overcome it. Ohio State jumped out to a quick lead and used 61% shooting from the floor to head into the locker room up 41-29.
Illinois (19-10, 10-8 Big Ten) used a 12-2 run coming out of the break to fight its way back, getting the deficit all the way down to 1 with 6:53 to play, 53-52.
From that point on, however, it was all Ohio State (12-17, 4-14 Big Ten), as the Buckeyes outscored the Illini 19-8 in the final 6:21 and pulled away to snap their 9-game losing streak.
In a season filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, Brad Underwood’s team has hit a pretty major low. This loss certainly will do some damage to the Illini’s NCAA Tournament resume and drops Illinois into a tie for 6th place with Iowa in the Big Ten standings with just a week left in the regular season.
With a win on Sunday and in its last two games of the regular season (plus a Wisconsin win over Purdue this week), Illinois would have had a shot at the Big Ten Tournament’s top seed and a share of the regular season conference title for the second year in a row. Nonetheless, that won’t be the case.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
BRUCE THORNTON: The Ohio State freshman lit Illinois up in the first half, scoring 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting.
SHANNON FOUL TROUBLE: After Illinois had drawn back within 1, Shannon picked up his 4th foul with 6:28 to play and was forced to exit. Ohio State would follow with the game-sealing run, and Shannon would go on to foul out.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Coleman Hawkins did get to add another poor soul to his body count.
- Coleman Hawkins’ first half block was the Illini’s 163rd of the season, setting a program-record for blocks in a single-season.
- Ohio State led for 36:28 of game time. Illinois led 5-4 three minutes into the game and never led again.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Unfortunately, this second half wasn’t quite as fun as the last one.
Illinois down double-digits at halftime pic.twitter.com/L2G2htkles— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) February 26, 2023
Brad Underwood looks to keep his undefeated record against Juwan Howard intact, as Illinois welcomes Michigan to Champaign for its final home game of the season.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Thursday.