Court Report: Looking to avoid losing five-straight in league play, Buckeyes host Illinois

Tonight, the currently No. 17 and soon to be unranked Ohio State Buckeyes host the Illinois Fighting Illini. Tip-off at Value City Arena is scheduled for 7:02 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on ESPN with Joe Tessitore and Sean Farnham. On your terrestrial radio dial, WBNS-FM 97.1 The Fan is the flagship station for the 56 outlets on the Ohio State IMG Sports Network. Paul Keels will call the play-by-play with analysis from Ron Stokes. The game can also be heard live via satellite on Sirius 91 and XM 91.

Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes lunges in to knock the ball loose from D.J. Richardson #1 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second half on March 10, 2013 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Illinois 68-55. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes lunges in to knock the ball loose from D.J. Richardson #1 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second half on March 10, 2013 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Illinois 68-55. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Buckeye Notes:

The Buckeyes enter tonight’s conference match-up on a four-game losing skid after suffering defeats to No. 5 Michigan State (72-68, OT), No. 20 Iowa (84-74), Minnesota (63-53) and Nebraska (68-62) in consecutive outings.

Ohio State is 15-4 overall and is tied for eighth in the Big Ten with a 2-4 mark. The Buckeyes’ have just one win against a team currently in the RPI top 50 after defeating North Dakota State (79-62) on Dec 14. OSU also has eight wins against the RPI top 100 which includes victories over Ohio (79-69), Marquette (52-35), Wyoming (65-50), Maryland (76-60), Delaware (76-64), Notre Dame (64-61), Purdue (78-69) and Nebraska (84-53).

In Ohio State’s last game against Nebraska, Terran Petteway scored seven points in the final 2:22 and had 13 of his 18 in the second half to help the Huskers to a 68-62 victory to end their five-game losing streak.

The Buckeyes beat Nebraska by 31 points on Jan. 4 in Columbus and haven’t won since. The four-game losing streak is Ohio State’s longest since the 2007-08 campaign when the Buckeyes lost four in a row during a tough stretch towards the end of the regular season en route to a National Invitational Tournament appearance.

Senior guard Aaron Craft scored 12 points, junior forward LaQuinton Ross added 11 and senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 10 for Ohio State.

Illini Notes:

Illinois is 13-6 overall and is also tied for eighth in the Big Ten at 2-4. The Illini have two wins over an RPI top 100 opponent and that came against Missouri (65-64) and Indiana (83-80). Like Ohio State, Illinois enters Thursday night’s contest on a four game losing streak after dropping decisions to Wisconsin (95-70), Northwestern (49-43), Purdue (66-58) and Michigan State (78-62).

In Illinois’ last game against the Spartans on Jan. 18, Gary Harris had a game-high 23 points and Keith Appling added 15 in Michigan State’s 78-62 win in Champaign. Tracy Abrams led the Illini with 15 points.

Series History:

Illinois leads the all-time series with Ohio State 101-66. Ohio State is 42-40 in Columbus. The Buckeyes are 23-11 vs. Illinois when ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. Thad Matta, since taking over the Ohio State program in 2004-05, is 12-5 against Illinois. Matta teams ranked against Illinois are 9-2, including a 5-0 record in Columbus.

Last Time Out: March 10, 2013

Using a late first half spurt that put them up by double digits over Illinois, Ohio State closed things out with a tenacious defense in the second half to win 68-55 at Value City Arena in Columbus. Deshaun Thomas scored 19 points, Aaron Craft had 14, Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 10.

2013-14 TEAM STATISTICS

NO. 17 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
15-4, 2-4 Big Ten
OSU
OPP
Points Per Game
73.3
58.5
Field Goals Made-Att.
477-1039
409-1043
Field Goal Pct.
.459
.392
3-Pt. Field Goals Made-Att.
127-374
81-310
3-Pt. Field Goal Pct.
.340
.261
3-Pt. FGs Made Per Game
6.7
4.3
Free Throws Made-Att.
311-455
212-305
Free Throw Pct.
.684
.695
FTs Made Per Game
16.4
11.2
Rebounds Per Game
35.6
34.6
Assists Per Game
13.2
8.7
Turnovers Per Game
11.5
15.2
Assist-to-Turnover Ratio
1.1
0.6
Steals Per Game
7.5
4.0
Blocks Per Game
4.6
2.7

ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI
13-6, 2-4 Big Ten
ILL
OPP
Points Per Game
69.3
63.7
Field Goals Made-Att.
468-1126
433-1049
Field Goal Pct.
.416
.413
3-Pt. Field Goals Made-Att.
118-379
118-347
3-Pt. Field Goal Pct.
.311
.340
3-Pt. FGs Made Per Game
6.2
6.2
Free Throws Made-Att.
263-363
227-333
Free Throw Pct.
.725
.682
FTs Made Per Game
13.8
11.9
Rebounds Per Game
36.4
34.1
Assists Per Game
10.4
10.3
Turnovers Per Game
9.9
11.8
Assist-to-Turnover Ratio
1.0
0.9
Steals Per Game
5.7
4.4
Blocks Per Game
4.0
3.5
PROBABLE LINEUPS & INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
C 23 Amir Williams 6-11 250 Jr. 23.8 9.0 6.4 0.4 .634 .000 .672
F 10 LaQuinton Ross 6-8 220 Jr. 26.6 13.9 5.7 0.8 .426 .400 .667
G 32 Lenzelle Smith Jr. 6-4 210 Sr. 27.4 11.9 4.9 1.5 .466 .358 .770
G 4 Aaron Craft 6-2 195 Sr. 34.4 9.2 3.4 4.9 .462 .286 .667
G 3 Shannon Scott 6-1 185 Jr. 27.9 7.7 4.0 3.8 .442 .286 .667
Key Reserves:
F 12 Sam Thompson 6-7 200 Jr. 23.9 7.9 3.2 0.9 .444 .297 .690
F 2 Marc Loving 6-7 215 Fr. 13.0 6.7 2.4 0.3 .424 .302 .824
G 33 Amedeo Della Valle 6-5 190 So. 12.8 5.1 2.0 0.3 .380 .370 .571
ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI
Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3FG% FT%
F/C 32 Nnanna Egwu 6-11 250 Jr. 28.4 6.8 5.4 0.3 .390 .227 .720
F 33 Jon Ekey 6-7 225t Sr. 27.8 8.0 5.8 0.2 .396 .360 .833
G 2 Joseph Bertrand 6-6 200 Sr. 29.6 10.6 5.5 0.8 .521 .444 .679
G 24 Rayvonte Rice 6-4 235 Jr. 32.7 17.4 5.9 1.8 .447 .326 .737
G 13 Tracy Abrams 6-2 190 Jr. 29.7 12.8 3.9 3.4 .372 .276 .761
Key Reserves:
G 25 Kendrick Nunn 6-3 180 Fr. 13.1 4.0 1.3 0.7 .400 .313 .667
G 21 Malcolm Hill 6-6 210 Fr. 10.9 3.5 2.1 0.5 .340 .217 .788
G 1 Jaylon Tate 6-3 160 Fr. 14.3 2.5 0.9 2.2 .273 .063 .739

About Matt Barker

Matt Barker began blogging on the Buckeyes for the web site, AllSports.com, back during Ohio State's championship year of 2002. Going out on his own, Mr. Barker began Buckeye Banter in August of 2003, now in its 10th year.