After two straight wins over teams that are contenders for the Big Ten title, today’s game against Illinois had all the makings of a trap game for Ohio State. The Illini came into the game winless in the conference and tied for last place. That winless record was a bit deceiving however as Illinois had already given scares to ranked Purdue and Penn State; in fact, the Illini had only been outscored in regulation by 11 points in their last 5 games combined.
The game opened as a back and forth affair as the two teams traded baskets. Illinois held a 15-14 lead about eight minutes into the game when Ohio State scored 11 straight to take a 25-15 lead. The Illini responded with an 11 to 5 run to cut the lead to 30-26 with just over six minutes remaining in the half. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the half with the Buckeyes able to stretch their lead to 44-36 as the horn sounded for intermission.