The Streak Ends, Ohio State Wins 62-55

OSU LogoOhio State ended its 4 game losing streak in defeating Illinois by a score of 62-55. LaQuinton Ross paced the Buckeyes, now 3-4 in the Big Ten and 16-4 overall, with 18 points on 6-11 shooting and 4-7 from the line. Despite the solid performance in this contest for Ross, the difference in the game was Lenzelle Smith Jr. He ended the contest with 16 points, including 4-8 from the 3 point line that included a couple of momentum swinging 3 pointers. This seemed to be what the Buckeyes lacked during the 4 game losing streak. In addition to that, over the last 4 games, Aaron Craft had just as many turnovers as assists at 19. On Thursday night, he 5 assists while only logging 2 turnovers.

In the early parts of this matchup it did not seem that the Buckeyes were going to overcome any offensive woes as they finished the first half down 25-24 while shooting only 29%. They made some adjustments in the second half and shot 54% on 13-24 shooting in the second half while not settling for poor shots.

As is customary for a Thad Matta coached team, defense is the objective on the court. The ability to stop the leading scorer from the other team was the main concern and Matta’s squad did just that. Rayvonte Rice had been averaging 17.1 points per game and left this game with exactly 0 points. Matta made sure his old assistant John Groce was not going to get the better of him the easy way. At first it looked as though Joseph Bertrand, Jon Eeky and Nnanna Egwu would carry the load for the Illini but they lacked additional scoring and the always pesky craft and his teammates made sure that wouldn’t happen. Bertrand finished with a game high 19 points to Eeky’s 11 and Egwu’s 10. No other Illinois player scored in double figures. The Illini fall to 2-5 in the tough Big Ten conference and 13-7 overall.

The Buckeyes get almost an entire week off as they do not play until hosting Penn State on Wednesday Jan 29th. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect it allows the players some rest as well as positive momentum going into a tough stretch with games at Wisconsin and Iowa following the home game against Penn State.

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