Buckeyes best Illini in battle of Big Ten heavyweights
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) – Jamar Butler poured in 22 points and Terence
Dials added 19 along with 16 rebounds, as the pair led 19th-ranked Ohio State
to an impressive 69-53 victory over No. 10 Illinois in an important Big Ten
clash at Value City Arena.
Butler knocked down 8-of-11 field goal attempts and the Buckeyes (18-3, 7-3
Big Ten) shot a sizzling 57 percent (13-of-23) from three-point range to seize
sole possession of second place in the conference standings.
Je’Kel Foster went 6-of-8 from beyond the arc in an 18-point effort, while
Butler sunk five treys in six tries in Ohio State’s fourth straight win.
Dee Brown had 12 points but went just 5-of-13 from the field for the Illini
(20-4, 6-4), who have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.
James Augustine compiled 11 points and 13 rebounds in defeat.
Foster and Butler combined to make all seven of their three-point shots in the
first half as the Buckeyes built a comfortable 37-26 lead at intermission.
Two early threes by Foster enabled Ohio State to grab an early 8-2 edge and
the pair accounted for all the Buckeyes’ points during a 12-1 run that broke
open the game later on.
Butler drained the first two three-pointers of the spurt and Foster added two
more triples to put the hosts up 31-16 with seven minutes to go in the half.
Illinois scored the next six points to cut the deficit to nine, but got no
closer the rest of the way. Butler opened the second half with consecutive
treys and added another less than two minutes into the stanza to give Ohio
State a commanding 48-28 lead.
Brown scored five points during a 12-0 second-half spurt that brought the
Illini within 53-44, but the Buckeyes responded. Two inside baskets from Dials
jumper and another three-pointer from Foster ignited a 12-2 run that extended
the margin to 19 points with six minutes to play.
The teams were meeting for the first time since last year’s regular-season
finale, in which Ohio State handed the Illini its first loss of the year with
a 66-65 victory in Columbus…In its last game, Illinois was upset by Penn
State in Champaign on February 4, ending the Illini’s 34-game home win
streak…Iowa currently leads the Big Ten by one-half game over Ohio State,
but both teams have three league losses.