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Rapid Reaction: Ohio St. 73, Illinois 68

1/22/2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Here’s a quick look at No. 1 Ohio State’s 73-68 win over No. 22 Illinois on Saturday.

How the game was won: Ohio State turned to its stud freshman Jared Sullinger time after time, and he did not disappoint. He scored a game-high 27 points. Some key 3-pointers and clutch free-throw shooting also assisted the Buckeyes in pulling out another close conference win. Illinois battled and even got within a point in the final minute, but ultimately couldn’t find a way past star guard Demetri McCamey’s worst game of the season. He was 2 of 11 from the field for a season-low five points. He also had four turnovers.

Turning point: Illinois made its run early in the second half, out-scoring Ohio State 12-4 and taking a 50-42 lead. Ohio State answered right back. The Buckeyes went on their own run, and theirs was larger. They went on 14-0 run and took a 56-50 lead. They would never relinquish their lead.

Player of the game: Sullinger did whatever he wanted against whomever he wanted on Saturday. Illinois tried a number of different people on him, but Sullinger abused them all. He had game-highs of 27 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.

Illinois player of the game: What an interesting few weeks Illinois freshman Jereme Richmond has had. He returned home to Waukegan due to a personal issue, missed two practices, was kept out of the Wisconsin game on Sunday, returned to action against Michigan State to score 14 points and then on Saturday he was the Illini's go-to player against Ohio State. He had team-highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Stat of the game: Ohio State did the bulk of its damage at the free-throw line in the second half. The Buckeyes were 19 of 21 from the line in the second half. They were 24 of 27 for the game. Sullinger alone was 13 of 15 from the line.

ESPN "SportsCenter" highlight of the game: Pick any Sullinger post move. Catch ball, spin, elevate and score.

What the game means: Ohio State remains No. 1 for another week. It hasn’t come easy for the Buckeyes. They’ve already had five Big Ten games decided by five points or less. They have put themselves in a promising position for a Big Ten title with a 7-0 start. For Illinois, this is one that hurts. The Illini had a real opportunity to knock off the No. 1 team in the country. The positive for Illinois is it didn’t have to rely on McCamey so much to compete with Ohio State. If Richmond and others can continue to hold their own, Illinois can be dangerous down the line.