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.
What’s next: Illinois returns home for its next two games. It faces Iowa on Sunday and Michigan on March 1. Ohio State hosts Wisconsin on Sunday.