The 19th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes traveled to the United Center in Chicago and topped the Fighting Illini 77-67. The Bucks also got Luther Muhammad back after he suffered a tough shoulder injury recently. Muhammad wasn’t expected to play and thus had to wear a default number 12 jersey since his usual number 1 was not brought along. The return seemed to help Ohio State tremendously as he played very well helping in the win.
The Bucks would be faced with a tough matchup as the Illini use a very unique offense and defense. Offensively, Illinois runs a spread offense that keeps the defenders spaced out and is mainly shaped around swinging the ball around the perimeter and looking for cutters off of back screens. This proved to be difficult to defend at times with Ohio State failing to call out screens and be in proper placement defensively. The Illinois defense is a hard pressure style where they deny every player the ball and rarely help off the ball. This meant Ohio State would have to take care of the ball and take what the defense gives them. They did a terrific job early of protecting the ball and cutting back door when they were over-played leading to wide open layups and threes. This allowed Duane Washington to get going quickly. The Bucks lead 30-22 and then began to play extremely sloppy and struggled to handle the pressure of the Illini. They forced the Buckeye guards to pick up their dribble causing them to attempt dangerous passes that lead to layups for Illinois. The Bucks were held scoreless for over five minutes and had five turnovers in roughly the same timespan. Chris Holtmann also received a technical with all of the Buckeyes becoming equally frustrated. This all resulted in a 16-4 run to end the half with the Buckeyes down 38-34 after seemingly being in control of the game.
Ohio State opened up the second half much more relaxed and under control. They seemed to have settled in and began to work through Kaleb Wesson. This forced the Illini to then help on Wesson and opened up more lanes and space to execute. Illinois kept pace for a while but the Bucks soon took full control on and 11-2 run with numerous big plays including a huge three from Luther Muhammad with the shot clock running out. C.J. Jackson also came out of the game for an extended period of time as Keyshawn Woods showed his veteran presence scoring and running the offense extremely well. Andre Wesson also saw little time after picking up his 4th foul early into the last half. The Buckeyes also managed to start defending well and took away the layups off of the Illini back screens that worked so well in the first half. The Illini did suddenly bring up the pressure more cutting the lead down to 6 before the Bucks got back on track. Ohio State held on after the late push and won 77-67 .
- Ohio State Standouts
Keyshawn Woods: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block
Kaleb Wesson: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block
Musa Jallow: 11 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal
- Illinois Standouts
Trent Frazier: 18 points, 2 steals
Kipper Nichols: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
The Buckeyes outlasted the Illini after being down in the first half. They managed to regain focus and pulled away in the last 20 minutes winning by double digits. Ohio State moved to 8-1 and will look to continue their impressive start against Bucknell this Saturday.
Image From Buckeyextra