Deshaun Thomas shines as No. 14 Ohio State downs Illinois
Columbus, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Deshaun Thomas fired 19 points as No. 14 Ohio State booked the No. 2 spot in the Big Ten tournament with a 68-55 victory over Illinois in its regular-season finale Sunday at before a sellout crowd of 19,049 at Value City Arena.
Thomas, expected to forego his senior season to enter the NBA Draft, shot 7-for-13 from the field while Aaron Craft added 14 points and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 10 for the Buckeyes, who wrapped up their campaign with a 23-7 record (13-5 Big Ten).
The backcourt tandem of Craft and Shannon Scott also combined for 15 rebounds, nine assists and five steals.
With the win, Ohio State clinched a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament and will face either Purdue or Nebraska in the quarterfinals. The tournament will be held March 14-17 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
The Buckeyes can also have a share of the Big Ten title if No. 7 Michigan beats No. 2 Indiana Sunday.
Brandon Paul scored 21 points and DJ Richardson added 10 for the Fighting Illini, who dropped to 21-11 (8-10 Big Ten).
Trailing 20-18, The Buckeyes went on a 15-4 run to end the first half with a 33-24 lead that they never relinquished.
Earlier, several members of the Ohio State basketball program were honored during pregame ceremonies for contribution to the Buckeyes over their careers.
Debby Cacchio, the men’s basketball secretary, will retire in April after 23 years with the program, in addition to seven years spent working in other university departments.
Evan Ravenel, Ohio State’s lone senior student-athlete, graduated last December. He will be playing in his 69th game as a Buckeye against Illinois.
Over his career, Ohio State has won 53 games, captured a Big Ten regular-season title and played in the Final Four.
Ravenel has averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds at Ohio State after transferring to the Buckeyes after two years at Boston College.
Managers Patrick Ford, Weston Strayer, Mike Oeters, Evan Kurt and Luke Terwilliger also will be working their final home game as Buckeyes.