Ohio State needed extra time to top Illinois Thursday, surviving 68-63 in Champaign despite blowing a 13-point lead in the final six minutes of regulation. JaQuan Lyle's two free throws and Mickey Mitchell's layup off an Illinois turnover in the final 14 seconds iced it for the Buckeyes.
The two free throws were Lyle's only points in the game. It was Ohio State's first road win in 22 days and its sixth straight victory overall against the Fighting Illini.
Jalen Coleman-Lands' 3-pointer with 56.9 seconds remaining tied the game at 58 and capped a 15-2 run to end regulation. Malcolm Hill's final shot attempt was blocked by Keita Bates-Diop with under a second left to send the game to its extra session.
After a horrid display of offense in the first half, both teams shot considerably better in the second 20 minutes. The Buckeyes (14-8, 6-3 Big Ten) stretched their lead to as many as 13 in the second half, but needed Lyle to step up and knock down the free throw to ensure the victory.
Illinois (10-11, 2-6) scored the game's first eight points, as unforced errors plagued Ohio State's offense. The Fighting Illini led by as many as 11 early, but couldn't maintain the scoring output until late in the second half.
|27-69 (39)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||18-56 (32)|
|7-23 (30)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||9-29 (31)|
|7-13 (54)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||18-31 (58)|
A distinct rebounding advantage helped Ohio State stay in the game—the Buckeyes held a 30-14 advantage on the glass at halftime—and a boost in defensive intensity had them leading 29-24 at intermission. Illinois made one field goal over the final 11 minutes of the first half, leading to a 10-2 run by Ohio State to take its first lead of the game.
The teams combined to miss 42 shots and commit 11 turnovers in the first half. Kam Williams led the Buckeyes with seven points at halftime, while star Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn had 13 on 4-of-5 shooting. The rest of his team was 3-of-20.
Trevor Thompson exploded off the bench to lead the Buckeyes with a career-high 16 points while making all seven of his shot attempts. Keita Bates-Diop tallied 15 and 12 rebounds and Marc Loving added 11 points and snatched 10 boards.
Nunn led Illinois with 24 points, while Hill added 12 and Coleman-Lands 11. Hill was the Big Ten's leading scorer coming in averaging 18.7 points a game, but he was mostly kept in check by Jae'Sean Tate. The Illini shot 18-of-31 from the free-throw line.
The Buckeyes finished with a 51-34 rebounding edge and scored 12 second-chance points.
Ohio State hosts No. 8 Maryland Sunday at 1 p.m.