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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 19 Ohio State men’s basketball team overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to pull away from No. 23 Illinois, 71-63, on Senior Night Thursday night at Value City Arena. With the win, the Buckeyes, who sent seniors Andre Wesson and Danny Hummer off with a win in their final home game, move to 21-9 on the year, 11-8 in the Big Ten, while the Illini drop to 20-10, 12-7 in conference play.
The Buckeyes wrap up the regular season at No. 16 Michigan State at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Kaleb Wesson scored 15 of his team-high 19 in the second half while E.J. Liddell recorded his first-career double-double with a career-high 17 points and 11 boards and CJ Walker totaled 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. Ayo Dosunmu scored a game-high 21 while Andres Feliz went for 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Illini.
Ohio State scored the first four points of the game but the Illini scored the next five as Kaleb Wesson picked up his second four on a Dosunmu 3-point play at the 16:33 mark. Illinois then went on a 9-2 spurt over the next 2:33 to push their lead to 14-6 on a Da’monte Williams 3-pointer with 14:00 left to play. The Illini lead grew to as many as 11 before the Buckeyes used a 15-4 run to knot the score at 24-all on an Andre Wesson 3-ball with 6:02 remaining. However, Illinois responded to close the half on a 13-6 spurt to take a 37-30 lead into the break.
Liddell led the Buckeyes with nine points and five boards while Duane Washington Jr. scored seven in the opening 20 minutes. Dosunmu paced the Illini with 14.
Feliz opened the second half with a layup to push the Illini lead to 39-30 but the Buckeyes answered with a 10-0 run over 3:07, capped by a Kaleb Wesson 3-pointer, to take a 40-39 advantage with 15:38 left to play. Illinois battled back to take a 49-42 lead with 12:37 remaining but Ohio State again responded, this time with a 14-2 spurt, to take a 56-51 advantage on a pair of Liddell free throws with 6:31 to go in the contest.
Illinois trimmed the deficit to 58-55 with 4:45 left but Kaleb Wesson scored the next five on a 3-point play and a layup to push the Buckeye advantage to 63-55 at the 3:39 mark. A pair of Andre Wesson free throws kept the Buckeye lead at 65-57 with 1:54 left but Trent Frazier hit the back end of a one-and-one and Feliz followed with a steal and a score but make it a 65-60 contest with 1:26 left but Liddell followed with a layup and Walker pick-pocketed Feliz the next time down the floor to put the game out of reach.
For the game, Ohio State held a 38-31 lead on the boards and a 32-11 advantage in bench scoring.