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