Columbus, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Three players, led by LaQuinton Ross, scored in double figures as No. 17 Ohio State snapped a four-game losing streak with a 62-55 victory over Illinois Thursday at Value City Arena.
Ross scored 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting, Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 16 points while Aaron Craft added 11 points, six boards and five assists as the Buckeyes improved to 16-4, 3-4 in the Big Ten.
With the win, the Buckeyes have extended their home winning streak against unranked opponents to 80 games. The last loss was Dec. 27, 2008 against West Virginia.
Ohio State now has won 53-consecutive home games against unranked Big Ten opponents. The last loss was Jan. 19 2005 against Minnesota.
“We did not play perfect, but I loved our energy on defense. We played extremely hard on defense and got back to rotating. Offensively, the first half was rough. However, the kids had a different look in their eyes this game,” said coach Thad Matta.
Matta said the win will help the Buckeyes to recollect, reflect and get healthy as they try to regain lost ground in the Big Ten.
Joseph Bertrand scored 19 points, Jon Ekey added 11 and Nnanna Egwu had 10 points and nine boards while the Fighting Illini (13-7) committed a season-high 15 turnovers that the Buckeyes turned to 16 points.
In the second half, they turned it up and scored 38 points – a good portion of those were off of live ball turnovers. I thought their ability to get deflections and get out in transition led to that,” said Illini coach John Groce.
Tied at 46 with 6:08 remaining in the game, Ohio State went on a 12-4 run behind Ross’ seven points to claim its largest lead, 58-50.