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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State got back in the win column as the Buckeyes defeated Illinois, 72-60, on Sunday afternoon at Value City Arena.
The win snapped a nine-game losing streak and gives the Buckeyes a 12-17 record overall and a 4-14 mark in Big Ten play.
Play of the Day
Throughout the second half, the Illini chipped away at a 12-point Ohio State lead, cutting it all the way down to one (53-32) with 6:53 to play in regulation. Following a basket by senior Justice Sueing, the Buckeyes got a stop and then first-year guard Brice Sensabaugh brought the crowd to its feet. A tip-out rebound by Sueing found Sensabaugh in transition, and the Buckeye’s leading scorer threw down a thunderous, one-handed slam over Illinois’ Matthew Mayer. Including that bucket, Ohio State finished the game on a 17-8 run.
Feel like it's a good time to remind everyone that Brice Sensabaugh is a freshman. 😱@bricepsensa x @OhioStateHoops pic.twitter.com/FNlvIKc2Gf
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 26, 2023
Bruce Thornton – The Buckeye point guard played huge for 34 minutes, finishing the night with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He paced Ohio State in the first half, totaling 13 points and also finished with five rebounds. His point total was just two-shy of his season high.
Brice Sensabaugh – Sensabaugh posted 14 points on the day. While it wasn’t one of his highest-scoring performances of the season, the first-year guard got hot when it mattered most, changing the energy of the arena with the play of the game. His point total marked the 26th double-digit performance of his season.
Justice Sueing – The lone upperclassman in the starting lineup, Sueing led by example, notching his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. His 11 boards tied a season high, while his 14 points are his most in a game since February 9. He led the way for the Buckeyes in the second half, pouring in a team-high eight.
Points in the Paint
The Scarlet & Gray dominated around the hoop, outscoring the Illini 46-28 in the paint. Every player got into the action of attacking the hoop. The Buckeyes threw down five dunks and, thanks to the effort in the paint, shot over 50 percent from the field.
The Ohio State defense held the Illini to just 60 points, the best defensive output by the Buckeyes since January 1, when they limited Northwestern to 57 point in a victory. They allowed just eight Illini assists on 22 baskets and held Illinois to 36 percent shooting (22-of-61).
How it happened
The Buckeye freshmen provided the spark in the opening half. After falling behind 5-0 in the early stages, Ohio State put together a 17-4 run to take an eight-point lead (17-9) with just under 12 minutes to play in the frame. Thornton put together eight early points, and assisted on another bucket in the run.
Ohio State would keep the Illini at bay throughout the first 20 minutes, with the lead never shrinking below seven points. The advantage would swell to as many as 15 (41-26) on a three-point play by Sensabaugh in the late stages of the half, and Ohio State would hold a 41-29 lead at the break.
Ohio State took advantage of the interior in the opening 20, outscoring Illinois 24-12 in the paint, while shooting over 60 percent from the field, and holding the Illini to 36 percent in the half.
The Illini made their biggest run of the game in the opening 10 minutes of the second stanza, holding the Buckeyes to just 10 points while cutting the Ohio State lead all the way down to one. Sensabaugh’s dunk turned things around, putting the hosts back up by five (57-52).
The advantage would swell back to double digits as Thornton put together his own, 5-0, run, including a three-point play on a contested layup, pushing the lead to 64-53. The lead would stay above double figures for the rest of the contest.
The Buckeyes will play their final home game of the season, as they matchup with Maryland on Wednesday evening. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start and can be found on the Big Ten Network. The program will recognize its seniors – Justice Sueing, Ice Likekele and Sean McNeil – prior to the game.