The #11 Illinois Fighting Illini picked up a nice bounce back win over the #8 Ohio State Buckeyes, 74-55.
In Friday’s press conference, head coach John Groce discussed how rapid conference play can be. He said “they’re coming at you about every two or three days. So you don’t have time, to celebrate or lick you woes” (Source: fightingillini.com).
After losing to Purdue on Wednesday, the Illini were definitely not licking their woes as they jumped on the Buckeyes early in the game. They led 37-25 at the half and continued in the second half.
Illinois started the second half with a 13-2 run which built their lead to 50-27.
There were four players for the Fighting Illini that scored double-digits in the game.
These players were Brandon Paul, Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand, and Nnanna Egwu.
Paul led the team with 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Paul has now scored double-digits in sixteen straight games.
Bertrand had a nice performance off the bench with 12 points. Egwu scored a career- high 16 points and led the team with eight rebounds. He went 6-of-10 from the field and most of his shots were long jump shots.
Abrams scored 13 points and recorded five assists. He played a very tough game that impressed Groce.
At the end of the first half, he crashed into the Ohio State bench after a loose ball and was in pain for a minute or two.
After the game, Groce said “Any time a guy sacrifices his body to make a play for his team, that’s the highest level of teamism – I don’t know if that’s a word” (Source: fightingillini.com).
Defensively, Illinois played very well. Of course, Deshaun Thomas scored 24 points in the game, but the Illini were able to shut down everyone else. The only other Buckeye to score double-digits was Aaron Craft who had 11 points.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Buckeyes were averaging 45.5% from the field, but were held to 33.3% on Saturday.
The Fighting Illini are now 14-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
Their next game will be against the #9 Minnesota Golden Gophers on January 9th. The Golden Gophers defeated Michigan State, 76-63, in their Big Ten Conference opener, but will play the Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday. Minnesota is 13-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten, but could be 2-0 in the Big Ten before their game against the Illini.
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