5 big questions for the Illinois basketball team against Ohio State

Jan 18, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13)
Jan 18, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13) / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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3. How low can Illinois hold Ohio State’s scoring?

Illinois has done a pretty good job at holding teams to low-scoring nights. The Illini defense has looked good for the most part, and it is one of the reasons we are so highly ranked.

Just in the past month, Illinois has held teams to 62 points, 63 points, 68 points, and 66 points. Anything under 70 points is a good night for a defense.

I want to see if Illinois can continue this great defensive effort. How low can the Illini hold the Buckeyes’ scoring on Tuesday night?

Illinois overall is an above-average defensive team for the season. We are allowing 68.7 points per game, which ranks No. 87 in the country. The Illini will be going up against a talented Ohio State team that averages 75.2 points per game, which ranks No. 117 in the country.

Ohio State guard Bruce Thornton has been the main focus on the offensive end of the court. He is averaging 16.1 points per game for the Buckeyes this season. Thornton loves to take three-pointers and get to the free throw line. While he is efficient from the charity stripe, shooting 82.5%, but you can’t say the same for his three-point shooting.

Thornton is a willing three-point shooter, taking 5.4 three-point attempts per game, but he is only hitting his shots at a clip of 32.4%. Illinois can continue exposing that inefficient play as well.

I think Illinois’ guard length is going to give Thornton trouble. It doesn’t matter who we put on him, every Illini guard who starts is at least 6-foot-6. We just have to make sure to fight through screens, as we did in the Indiana game.

If Illinois can shut down Thornton and don’t let him go off, then we should be able to hold Ohio State to a pretty low number. This team has lost five out of the last six and has failed to hit 70 points in all of those losses. I think the Illini can hold the Buckeyes to under 70 points once again.