Men's Basketball
Illini Edged by Buckeyes, 62-55

Joseph Bertrand had a game-high 19 points against Ohio State.
Joseph Bertrand had a game-high 19 points against Ohio State.

Jan. 23, 2014

Highlights | Box Score | Photos

Illinois 25 30 55
Ohio State 24 38 62
Illini Top Performers
Joseph Bertrand 19 pts, 3 rebs
Jon Ekey 11 pts, 5 rebs
Nnanna Egwu 10 pts, 9 rebs, 1 assist
Game Stats
OSU Illinois
FG Percentage 42% 41%
3-point Percentage 42% 28%
FT Percentage 74% 67%
Def. Rebounds 21 21
Off. Rebounds 10 11
Assists 11 10
Steals 10 5
Turnovers 12 15
Blocks 3 4
Next Game
Illinois at Indiana
Sunday, Jan. 26    2 pm CT    BTN
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Joseph Bertrand led all scorers with 19 points and Nnanna Egwu added 10 points and nine rebounds, but Illinois fell in the waning moments to No. 17 Ohio State, 62-55 on Thursday night.

LaQuinton Ross scored 18 points to lead the Buckeyes.

Aaron Craft added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Buckeyes (16-4, 3-4 Big Ten), who had lost four in a row for the first time since 2007-08.

Jon Ekey had 11 points for the Illini (13-7, 2-5), who lost their fifth straight and play three of their next four games against ranked opponents.

Trailing by as many as four points and down 34-31 just over 5 minutes into a defense-dominated second half, the Buckeyes suddenly found the range.

Illinois left Ross -- one of the Buckeyes' few offensive threats -- all alone under the basket for an easy bucket.

Craft then stole the ball and drove the distance for the layup and a 35-34 lead.

The Illini turned the ball over on their next two possessions, as well. Smith, who had 35 points total during the losing skid, then drove the right baseline for a bucket off an assist from Craft.

After an Illinois miss, Craft handed the ball to Sam Thompson who hit a 3 from the right elbow to push the lead to 40-34.

Still, the Illini didn't fold. They pulled to 41-40 on 3s by Ekey and Bertrand and pulled even at 46 on Tracy Abrams' slash through the lane. He missed the cap on a possible three-point play, however, and at the end Shannon Scott fed Ross for a 3 from the left wing.

The teams traded missed chances until Smith stepped in front of a bad pass by Abrams and fed Scott for a left-handed layup with 3:50 remaining for a 51-46 advantage.

With the Buckeyes up 52-50, Ross drove the lane against the Illinois zone and was fouled, banking in a shot and adding the accompanying free throw with 2:07 left.

The Illini then turned it over on an offensive foul by Rice before Smith poured in a 3 from in front of the Ohio State bench for a 58-50 lead with 75 seconds remaining.

Illinois never threatened again.

Neither team gained much traction in the opening half, with Illinois up 25-24 at the break.

The Buckeyes scored the first five points but the Illini -- who scored on four of their final five possessions including the last three -- finally found some tempo in the closing moments.

Bertrand, averaging 10.6 points a game, had 10 in the first 20 minutes. Ohio State, true to its recent form, struggled on offense. The Buckeyes hit just 7 of 24 shots from the field (29 percent), actually hitting a higher percentage outside the arc (3 of 10) than they did inside it (4 of 14 for 29 percent).

With the Buckeyes up 21-18 after Aaron Craft's two free throws with 2:29 left, Bertrand hit a falling-down 3 from the top of the key as the shot clock was expiring. Jaylon Tate then flipped backdoor assist passes to Ekey and Nnanna Egwu for easy baskets.

Smith hit two 3-pointers for six points and Williams had five points and six rebounds at intermission.