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    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
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    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.

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