OSU Ends Four-Game Skid With 62-55 Win Over Illinois

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — LaQuinton Ross scored 18 points and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 16 — including a critical 3-pointer in the waning moments — to help No. 17 Ohio State end a four-game skid with a 62-55 win over Illinois on Thursday night.

Aaron Craft added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Buckeyes (16-4, 3-4 Big Ten), who had lost four in a row for the first time since 2007-08.

Joseph Bertrand had 19 points, Jon Ekey 11 and Nnanna Egwu 10 for the Illini (13-7, 2-5), who lost their fifth straight. They haven’t won since Jan. 4 and play three of their next four games against ranked opponents.

Rayvonte Rice, averaging 17.4 points a game, was 0 for 8 from the field and went scoreless. The Illini have lost their last six Big Ten road games and fell to 1-4 against ranked teams this season.

Trailing by as many as four points and down 34-31 just over 5 minutes into a defense-dominated second half, the Buckeyes suddenly found the range.

Illinois inexplicably left Ross — one of the Buckeyes’ few offensive threats — all alone under the basket for an easy bucket.

Craft then stole the ball and drove the distance for the layup and a 35-34 lead.

The Illini turned the ball over on their next two possessions, as well.

Smith, who had 35 points total during the losing skid, then drove the right baseline for a bucket off an assist from Craft.

After an Illinois miss, Craft handed the ball to Sam Thompson who hit a 3 from the right elbow to push the lead to 40-34.

Still, the Illini didn’t fold. They pulled to 41-40 on 3s by Ekey and Bertrand and pulled even at 46 on Tracy Abrams’ slash through the lane. He missed the cap on a possible three-point play, however, and at the end Shannon Scott fed Ross for a 3 from the left wing.

The teams traded missed chances until Smith stepped in front of a bad pass by Abrams and fed Scott for a left-handed layup with 3:50 remaining for a 51-46 advantage.

With the Buckeyes up 52-50, Ross drove the lane against the Illinois zone and was fouled, banking in a shot and adding the accompanying free throw with 2:07 left.

The Illini then turned it over on an offensive foul by Rice before Smith poured in a 3 from in front of the Ohio State bench for a 58-50 lead with 75 seconds remaining.

Illinois never threatened again.

Neither team gained much traction in the opening half, with Illinois up 25-24 at the break.

The Buckeyes scored the first five points but the Illini — who scored on four of their final five possessions including the last three — finally found some tempo in the closing moments.

Bertrand, averaging 10.6 points a game, had 10 in the first 20 minutes.

Ohio State, true to its recent form, struggled on offense. The Buckeyes hit just 7 of 24 shots from the field (29 percent), actually hitting a higher percentage outside the arc (3 of 10) than they did inside it (4 of 14 for 29 percent).

With the Buckeyes up 21-18 after Aaron Craft’s two free throws with 2:29 left, Bertrand hit a falling-down 3 from the top of the key as the shot clock was expiring. Jaylon Tate then flipped backdoor assist passes to Ekey and Nnanna Egwu for easy baskets.

Smith hit two 3-pointers for six points and Williams had five points and six rebounds at intermission.

(© 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)

More From CBS Chicago

News Via Email
Podcast Network

Watch & Listen LIVE