How it happened: In the teams’ first meeting of the season on Jan. 10, It took a special 43-point effort by Brandon Paul for Illinois to upset Ohio State. The Buckeyes weren’t going to allow something like that to happen again, building a 28-8 lead within the first nine minutes on unbelievable shooting. Ohio State connected on 16 of its first 19 shots and built its advantage to 40-18 later in the first half. Ohio State shot 65 percent from the field for the game. Paul was 2-of-10 shooting for nine points.
What it means: The Illini’s woes are getting worse. They’ve lost six games in a row and nine of their last 10. Tuesday’s loss guaranteed their first Big Ten losing record since they went 5-13 in the 2007-08 season. Illinois’ only hope of making the NCAA tournament will now be finishing the conference season strong and making a run in the conference tournament. For Ohio State, the win kept it in the Big Ten title race. It improved to 13-4 in conference.
Player of the game: Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas scored a team-high 19 points and was 6-of-8 from the field. He also went 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Illinois player of the game: Meyers Leonard looked like one of the few Illini who came to play on Tuesday. Leonard scored a game-high 21 points. The next highest Illinois scorer was D.J. Richardson with 12 points. Leonard held Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger to nine points and six rebounds. Sullinger also fouled out.