It’s been a rough 24 hours for the Ohio State University. After ending 2016 with a demoralizing loss in the College Football Playoff semi-final, they open 2017 with a 75-70 loss at Illinois. The Illini snap a 6 game losing streak to Ohio State as they hold on for a 5 point victory. The Illini improve to 11-4 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten while Ohio State falls to 10-4, moving to 0-1 in the Big Ten.
- The game went back and forth for the first 10 minutes or so of the first half before Illinois went on on a 19-2 scoring run to extend their lead to double digits, leading by as much as 15 points in the first half before going into the locker room up 11 at half time
- Ohio State clawed their way back into the game quickly in the second half as they opened up half number two on 6-8 shooting while Illinois shot 2-9
- JayQuan Lyle was the story of the game for Ohio State, leading all scorers with 26 points on 10/18 shooting. Much of his damage came in the second half, single handedly keeping Ohio State in the game
- Malcolm Hill led the way for Illinois (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), including a couple of timely shots down the stretch to seal the W for Illinois
- Leron Black had an incredible game on the boards tallying a career high in rebounds with 15, including a couple huge ones to help finish off the game, but struggled to put the ball in the basket on 2-9 shooting
- Jay’Sean Tate, Ohio State’s leading scorer thus far in the season, was held to 9 total points, as Illinois didn’t allow him to score a single point in the first half
- Bench points were huge for Illinois today, as they managed to put up 25. They’re going to need that kind of production from the bench to help supplement guys like Malcolm and Tracy.
This game is definitely the bounce back game Illinois needed, and played much better than their game against Maryland needless to say. Shooting, defense, rebounding; just about every aspect of the game was better for Illinois than their last outing.
One thing Illinois needs to work on is their interior defense. One big key to why Ohio State was able to make this such a competitive game particularly in the second half was because they were getting whatever they wanted down low in the paint. With a guy like Thomas Bryant coming to Champaign for the next game, Illinois will have to shore up their interior defense or Indiana’s bigs will have a field day against Thorne, Finke, Morgan, and Black.
Illinois took care of the ball (9 turnovers), and when it came down to crunch time, got the necessary shots to fall in order to ice the game. Illinois has streaks where they’re playing good basketball. Really good, NCAA tournament caliber basketball. They need to take advantage of what they’re doing when they have double digit leads, and not get sloppy on the defensive end and allow the opposing team to crawl back into the game.
Indiana will host Illinois at the State Farm Center January 7th. In true 2016 Big Ten fashion, Illinois (11-4), could have a better record than Indiana (10-4) going into this game if Indiana loses its next game. With the way the Big Ten has been wildly unpredictable this year, specifically with how fickle home court advantage has been, I think that Illinois has a shot to make it a really competitive basketball game.
Hey, Illinois is undefeated this year!