Ohio State improved to 2-0 in the conference behind a dominating defensive effort in Champaign that saw the Bucks hold Illinois to just 12% on threes (3/24) and 24% from the field. Like most of us, Coach Matta was displeased with the perimeter defense in the Indiana game so he had the players watch tape of Je'Kel Foster to show what type of intensity he expected to see at the defensive end of the floor. That ploy seemed to work as Illinois had few open looks and surrendered 7 steals. OSU again dominated inside winning the rebounding battle 43-34 including an 11-6 edge on the offesive glass against and Illini team that came in leading the league in that stat. Illinois managed just 22 points in each half, trailing by 14 at the break and only Warren Carter reached double figures with 11 points. The loss marks the first three game losing streak for Illinois since Bruce Weber took over three plus seasons ago and ranks as the worst home defeat since Indiana beat the Illini 83-55 back in 1976.
On the flip, OSU placed four in double figures led by Daequan Cook, who had 12 points and 6 rebounds. Othello Hunter had another exciting effort going 4-4 from the field, including his first three, and grabbed 6 boards. Mr. Oden, as Steve Lavin calls him, had 7 second half points to go along with 15 rebounds. OSU struggled from the field today shooting just 34% but did manage to hit 9 threes after making only 4 against Indiana. I had high hopes that we'd break out of our slump from behind the arc but I guess we must be saving that for Tuesday night in Madison.
Speaking of Wisconsin, if OSU can carryover the defensive intensity shown today and couple that with a hot night from deep, we can pull the upset. If not, Bo Ryan's Badgers are going to be tough to handle in the Kohl Center with their inside depth and the tough matchup that is Alando Tucker.