Keyshawn Woods, who in the previous game against Minnesota had gone scoreless – but not so against the Illini of Illinois on Wednesday night, the 5th of December in the Illini’s territory…dropping in 18 points along with 4 rebounds. And he steeped in, or is that up? At the moment that the Buckeyes needed him.
Woods scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half; Kaleb Wesson contributed 13 on his own, while the 19th-ranked Buckeyes rallied in the second half for a 77-67 victory over Illinois.
Musa Jallow would add 11 points and nine rebounds as the Buckeyes (8-1) improved to 2-0 in Big Ten play.
“I know I struggled in the last game, but the season’s long,” Woods said. “You’re going to have those up and downs, but you try not to have two in a row. That was my mentality coming into this game.”
Trent Frazier and Kipper Nichols scored 18 apiece as Illinois (2-7, 0-2) dropped its third straight.
The Illini have lost 12 in a row to ranked teams. The school’s last victory against a Top 25 opponent was 68-66 over No. 20 Iowa in the second round of the 2016 Big Ten Tournament.
“I was really pleased with our first half,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “I thought, probably for a six-, seven- or eight-minute stretch, that was as good as we’ve looked, and the way I envision us.
“We were flying around, we took them out of what they wanted to do, and the ball moved and we got some easy baskets.”
The second half became another issue. The Buckeyes shot 12 of 21 (57.1 percent) in the final 20 minutes to turn things around. The Illini went 9 for 33 (27.3 percent) following the half.
“We did not play with great poise in the first half, and we didn’t coach with great poise in the first half,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “But I’m proud of our guys for responding.”
Ohio State had a 30-22 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the first half before Illinois closed up the gap in a 16-4 run that looking concerning for Buckeye’s – taking a 38-34 halftime lead.
The frustration for Holtmann boiled over midway through the spurt when he picked up a technical foul for protesting a no-call at the Ohio State basket.
Both teams shot 40 percent from the field in the first half, but the difference was Illinois going 15 for 19 at the free throw line compared to 7 of 12 for Ohio State.
The Illini maintained a slim lead for the first several minutes of the second half, but the Buckeyes went back on top, 52-51, on a scoop shot by Duane Washington Jr. with 13:26 to play.
That basket was intertwined within a 15-2 run as the Scarlet and Gray flipped a 51-48 deficit into a 63-53 lead with nine minutes remaining.
A VIEW FROM BENEATH THE MICROSCOPE
The Buckeyes: Following their third game in eight days — including a loss to Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge — the Buckeyes get nine days off before returning to the court.
Bring on the popcorn, sippy cup, and the Linus blanket!
“It’s an honor playing in an NBA arena,” Woods said, “especially where (Michael Jordan) played.”
Being in the United Center, I’m certain will bring on such comments.
The Buckeyes will now host Bucknell on Dec. 15th.
SEE YOU THERE … GO BUCKEYES.