Buckeyes Back on Track After Win Over Illinois

by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

Losers of two of its last three games, Ohio State got an easy 89-70 victory against Illinois to get itself headed back in the right direction.

This game was over early as the Buckeyes had a 15-point lead by halftime. Five players, including four starters, were in double figures for Ohio State, led by senior David Lighty, who had 21 points. For Lighty, those were the most points he has had in a Big Ten game all season.

Turning to the nightly Jared Sullinger watch, the freshman notched his 13th double-double of the season with a modest 12 points and 11 rebounds. For only the second time all season, Sullinger did not attempt a foul shot.

After the game, Sullinger and the Buckeyes were happy to get back on the winning side of things and play better basketball.

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“I would say as a team we don’t like to lose,” freshman Jared Sullinger said. “We wanted to bounce back and start another winning streak.”

There wasn’t all that much to bounce back from as a team, though the 18 turnovers at Purdue were an obvious concern. Matta said he wasn’t worried that his team couldn’t pass or dribble, he just said “take care of it.”

So the Buckeyes responded with a season-low three turnovers, their best effort in more than a decade, while forcing Illinois into 16 turnovers.

While there was a little panic among those in Columbus after Sunday’s loss, the Buckeyes once again look like a team poised for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. If Ohio State wins out, it will wrap up the Big Ten regular season title. Only a season-ending home game against Wisconsin looks like a possible defeat on its remaining schedule.