Buckeyes dominate Illini men’s basketball

The Illinois men’s basketball team never stood a chance Tuesday.

Ohio State dominated from the start and never trailed in its 83-67 win over the Illini (16-12, 5-10 Big Ten) at the Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Illinois extended its losing streak to six consecutive games and has given up at least 75 points in each game. Ohio State shot 65 percent on the night, making it the fifth time the Illini have given up at least 50 percent shooting during their losing streak.

Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes in scoring, with 19 points, thanks to 6-for-8 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. William Buford added 17 points for Ohio State, making seven of his nine shots.

Point guard Aaron Craft also played well, netting 11 points with five rebounds and five assists.

Illini sophomore center Meyers Leonard finished with a game-high 21 points. It was ultimately poor perimeter shooting that hurt the team throughout the game. Illinois shot just 3-of-19 on its 3-pointers, with junior guard D.J. Richardson going 2-for-8 from beyond the arc.

The Buckeyes (23-5, 11-4) led by 16 at halftime but were ahead by as many as 22 in the first half thanks to 71 percent shooting, including making 5-of-7 shots from 3-point range.

In the second half, play was much closer as the Buckeyes were able to extend their lead only by one to 17 through the first nine minutes when All-American Jared Sullinger picked up his fourth foul.

Losing their star player didn’t deter the Buckeyes, however, as the team actually extended its lead to as many as 25 before head coach Thad Matta emptied his bench in the closing minutes.

Sullinger would finish with just nine points but a game-high six rebounds on the night before fouling out with just under five minutes remaining.

Illinois is now alone in 10th place in the conference and is a half game ahead of Nebraska and a full game ahead of Penn State.

Ohio State, meanwhile, pulled to within a half game of Big Ten-leading Michigan State.