The No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes added another victory to the win column on Saturday against Illinois, though it was far from anything pretty.
You’ve heard of this before, right?
U-G-L-Y, that game had no alibi.
It was ugly.
Against the Fighting Illini, the Buckeyes hit just 38.3 percent (18-47) of their shots from the field, and was just 3-of-13 from beyond the arc in the 48-39 win at the State Farm Center in Champaign. The 18 field goals made ties a season-low for Ohio State, while the 47 attempted field goals was the second-lowest mark on the year.
Luckily on Saturday, Illinois was even worse as the Illini connected on a mere 28.3 percent (15-53) from the floor and 5-of-16 from three-point range.
It was the fourth time in 13 Big Ten games that Ohio State shot 40 percent or worse, and the ninth time in 13 conference contests that the Buckeyes hit 45 percent of less. For the season, OSU is at 45.2 percent, ranking the Scarlet and Gray fifth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, but are hitting only 43.2 percent during conference play. Michigan leads the league at 47.9 percent, and Kansas tops all NCAA Division I teams at 50.4 percent.
Senior guard Aaron Craft led Ohio State with 14 points, while junior forward LaQuinton Ross added nine points and six rebounds. Freshman forward Marc Loving had eight points off the bench for the Buckeyes, who have won four of their last five.
Trailing 23-20 at the break, Ross drained a three to tie the game 22 seconds into the half that started an 10-2 run for Ohio State and the Buckeyes never looked back as Craft knocked down a three and it ended with a jumper from Lenzelle Smith Jr. that made it a 30-25 game with 13:28 to go.
Illinois got within one on a pair of free throws from junior guard Tracy Abrams, but Ohio State built a healthy lead thanks to a 12-0 run. Loving was strong, scoring the final eight points to give the Buckeyes a 42-29 lead with 5:25 remaining.
Junior guard Rayvonte Rice’s triple and two layups gave the Fighting Illini six straight points to make it 44-39 with a minute left, but Smith and Craft both hit a pair of free throws to account for the final score.
Abrams scored 13 points, Rice contributed 11, and junior center Nnanna Egwu had 14 boards for the Fighting Illini, who have dropped two straight and 10 of their last 11.
Up next, Ohio State (20-6, 7-6 Big Ten) hosts Northwestern (12-14, 5-8 Big Ten), Wednesday night. Tip-off at Value City Arena is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on BTN.