Buckeyes Come Up Short At Illinois, 75-70


Despite JaQuan Lyle’s 26-point effort, the Ohio State Buckeyes came up short in their Big Ten opener against the Illinois Fighting Illinois.

The Buckeyes trailed by 11 as they entered halftime. Illinois had their way against the Buckeyes’ defense, shooting 49 percent from the field. As bad as the defense was, the offense was equally bad, looking lethargic for most of the opening 20 minutes as they tried to figure out the Illini’s zone.

Ohio State shot only 37 percent in the opening period and didn’t attempt a free throw. They would only attempt 11 in the entire game, compared to 23 for Illinois.

The second half took on a much different feel as the Buckeyes tightened up on defense, and the offense followed suit.

Lyle’s jumper with 8:34 left in the second half gave the Buckeyes their first lead since there was still 10 minutes left in the opening period.

After Illinois’ Maverick Morgan made a layup to even the score at 60, the two teams traded stops for a two minute stretch that brought the game under five minutes.

A layup by Lyle gave the Buckeyes a 62-60 lead, but was answered seconds later by a three pointer from Illinois’ Michael Finke to give the Illini a one point lead.

Jae’Sean Tate’s dunk with 3:54 left in the game gave Ohio State their final lead of the game. Jalen Coleman-Lands hit a three for Illinois to give them the lead right back, and they wouldn’t relinquish it.

Free throws in the final seconds preserved the lead for the Illini and dealt the Buckeyes their fourth loss of the season.

Illinois received big efforts from their bench, getting 12 and 11 points from Finke and Morgan, respectively. The 23 combined points outscored the bench production from Ohio State by 14 points.

Ohio State took care of the basketball, only committing eight turnovers on the night. However, they could not overcome prolonged stretches of bad offensive sets and forced shots, something that has defined that side of the floor for the Buckeyes for quite a while now.

The loss is a tough way to begin conference play for the Buckeyes. Simply put, if they are to compete in any way in the Big Ten conference, they have to be able to go on the road and beat middle-of-the-pack teams. Illinois, who has a loss to Winthrop and a 32-point loss to West Virginia on their resume already, certainly fits the bill for one of those games.

Things won’t get any easier for Thad Matta and his team as they return home to take on a good Purdue team on Thursday night. Purdue will be coming off their first loss of conference play as well. They were beaten by Minnesota, at home, in overtime earlier today.

Tipoff for that game is set for 7:00.