Ohio State’s winning ways didn’t last long.
The Buckeyes snapped their five-game losing skid with a win over Iowa on Saturday, but stumbled on the road in Champaign Tuesday to suffer a sixth loss in the past seven games. Illinois picked up a 69-60 victory to win its fifth game out of the last six.
Unlike each of Ohio State’s previous five losses, this one wasn’t particularly close, despite a single-digit deficit to end the night. In fact, it was the Buckeyes’ most lopsided Big Ten defeat of the season.
Illinois benefitted from frequent Ohio State fouls and an inefficient first half from the field for the Buckeyes, who found themselves trailing by double-digits early in the second period. Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon set the tone for the Illini, but his teammates blew the lid off with a 10-0 run that put Ohio State down 17 five minutes into the second half.
The Buckeyes cut the deficit to single digits on multiple occasions thereafter, but never truly threatened to recapture control. Illinois dominated the glass and led for more than 34 minutes on the night, including the entire second half.
Ohio State took a 9-5 lead into the first media timeout after a 7-0 run that featured back-to-back Brice Sensabaugh jumpers. After that, the Buckeyes missed eight straight shots during a stretch in which they failed to hit a field goal for well over five minutes. Illinois took full advantage with a 9-1 run to retake a lead through the midway mark of the half.
The Buckeyes only connected on six of their first 20 attempts from the floor, but still only trailed by two points by the under-eight-minute media timeout. Two free-throw misses on the front end of one-and-ones proved costly for Ohio State, which only watched the Illinois lead grow after that.
|22-60 (36.7%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||24-59 (40.7%)|
|4-10 (40%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||5-28 (17.9%)|
|12-20 (60.%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||16-18 (88.9%)|
With Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing both sidelined with foul trouble, the Illini opened up an 11-point lead by the 2:28 mark. Ohio State cut the lead to six with 14 seconds to play, but Illinois scored the final two points to head to halftime up 34-28.
Ohio State shot just 31.3% from the field and gave up 13 free-throw attempts to the Illini, who hit 11 of them. Illinois scoring leader Terrence Shannon knocked down six of those by himself. By comparison, the Buckeyes only shot 3-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Illinois was already leading the dance to start the period, but it took a vice grip on the contest with a 10-0 run from 17:53 to 15:18. Jayden Epps and Dain Dainja combined to score all 10 points as the Illini opened up a 17-point lead, 48-31.
But the Buckeyes didn’t wilt. With Illinois up 15 at the 13:17 mark, Ohio State rattled off the next seven straight points to make it a single-digit ballgame once again. Zed Key capped off the run with an and-one layup to help breathe life into the Buckeyes.
A little under two minutes later, though, Key committed his fourth foul as the Illini regained an 11-point edge with the clock ticking under nine minutes. Illinois’ edge on the glass became more pronounced as the game progressed, and an offensive rebound led to an Illini dunk to increase their lead at the 6:40 mark. Just 23 seconds later, Illinois slammed down another dunk to make it a 16-point game.
Key fouled out with 5:05 to play as Ohio State slipped out of striking distance. Trailing by 17 at the final media timeout, it was too late for the Buckeyes to mount any meaningful comeback effort.
Sensabaugh led the Buckeyes in scoring for the 11th straight game, but his 14 points were his fewest since Dec. 8. Sueing was the only other Buckeye to finish in double digits, scoring 13 points off the bench.
Four Illini starters scored at least 11 points and Shannon led all scorers with 17 points.
- Zed Key, who left Saturday’s game in the final seconds with a knee injury, was available and started the game for the Buckeyes.
- Justice Sueing came off the bench for the second straight game while Bruce Thornton, Sean McNeil, Isaac Likekele and Brice Sensabaugh joined Key in the starting lineup. McNeil came off the bench on Saturday due to a dental emergency.
- Ohio State defeated Illinois, 86-83, in last year’s matchup at the State Farm Center on Feb. 24, 2022.
- Tuesday’s game was the first time in the last six matchups in the all-time series in which neither Ohio State nor Illinois was ranked in the AP Top 25.
- Illinois last beat Ohio State in an overtime matchup for the Big Ten Tournament championship on March 14, 2021.