As March approaches and college basketball teams look to build their résumés, perhaps the most important thing any team can have is a short memory.
Just four days after having a three-game winning streak snapped at home by archrival No.15 Michigan, 70-60, the Ohio State Buckeyes got back to their winning ways against Illinois, beating the Fighting Illini, 48-39.
Despite a tough first half where the Buckeyes trailed by as many as six points — including a three-point margin at halftime — No. 22 OSU (20-6, 7-6, fifth in the Big Ten) would manage to fight its way back in the second half.
Five points from junior forward LaQuinton Ross — who finished the game with nine points — followed by a 3-pointer from senior guard Aaron Craft was enough for OSU to take a 28-25 lead with 15:14 remaining. The Buckeyes would never trail again.
Although the Fighting Illini (14-12, 3-10) would cut the lead to one at 30-29 with 12:19 left, OSU would score the next 12 points and secure its 20th win of the season. It is the ninth consecutive season OSU has won at least 20 games.
Despite not playing in the final 10:13 of the first half, Craft finished the game with a game-high 14 points.
Freshman forward Marc Loving and sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle would contribute for OSU off the bench, scoring eight and five points respectively.
Illinois junior center Nnanna Egwu continued to hurt OSU on the glass, recording a career-high 13 rebounds on the night to go with six points.
OSU’s 48 points were its lowest total of the season, but managed to hold Illinois to just 16 points in the second half. The 39 points by Illinois were the second fewest allowed by the Buckeyes this season, with only the 35 scored by Marquette Nov. 16 being less.
Next up, OSU is scheduled to return to the Schottenstein Center for a matchup against Northwestern (12-13, 5-7, seventh in the Big Ten) Wednesday at 7 p.m.