Complete Effort Nets Illini Dominant Win Over Buckeyes

By IlliniGuys Staff

January 24, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Joe Clark/IlliniGuys)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Terrence Shannon Jr. scored a game-high 17 points and Coleman Hawkins flirted with a double-double as a rested Illinois team dominated Ohio State 69-60 Tuesday night at State Farm Center.

The win was the Illini's first at home over the Buckeyes since January 1, 2017 and is the fifth victory in six games overall for Illinois (14-6, 5-4).

Coming off a five-day break after a grueling stretch that saw Illinois play six games in a 15-day span, the Illini came out with fresh legs.  RJ Melendez's fast break layup gave Illinois an early 10-9 lead and the Illini never trailed after that.

Illinois led 34-26 at halftime and built that to 41-31 with 16:40 left in the game when Ohio State guard Isaac Likekele missed a pair of free throws.  That triggered a free chicken nuggets giveaway, much to the delight of a sold-out crowd and the Illini responded to the extra energy with seven straight points.  Dain Dainja hit a layup and slammed home a dunk before freshman Jayden Epps drained a three-pointer for a 48-31 Illinois lead.

The Illini maintained a double-digit lead before Ohio State closed on a frantic 8-0 run, capped off by a Justice Sueing three-pointer with four seconds left.

The Illinois defense held Ohio State to just 36.7% shooting from the field.  That's the Buckeyes' fourth sub-.400 shooting night in the past five games - all losses.  Veteran center Zed Key was held scoreless in the first half and finished with just eight points before he fouled out with 5:05 remaining.  Ohio State freshman Brice Sensabaugh leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 17.9 points per game, but was led to a Big Ten-low 14 points on just 5-of-13 shooting.

Epps responded to his second start of the season with 14 points and Matt Mayer added 12.  Hawkins finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists with only one turnover in one of his most complete games.

The Illini will travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers on Saturday (2pm, FOX).

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for complete coverage of the Illini win!

 

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