The Ohio State Buckeyes (16-7, 6-6) host the Illinois Fighting Illini (9-15, 5-8) for a 7:00 pm tip-off Thursday evening on ESPN2. The Buckeyes come into this game following a 55-52 win at Indiana. Illinois, meanwhile, comes into the contest in the midst of a 3-game winning streak. The three wins have been over Nebraska (71-64), Michigan State (79-74), and Rutgers (99-94 OT), and all have come at home. Ohio State already has a 77-67 win over Illinois from back in December.
OSU head football coach Ryan Day will be introducing his coaching staff at halftime.
Who: Illinois at Ohio State
What: Men’s Basketball
Where: Columbus, OH — Value City Arena
When: 7:00 pm (ESPN2)
Why: Because Bracketologists are watching.
Line: Ohio State -8
Conference Games Only
+ Ohio State improved to 80-105 all-time against Indiana and 27-63 in Bloomington. With the win, Ohio State improves to 6-6 in conference play this season. The Buckeyes’ 55 points against Indiana marked the lowest point total for the team this season. The Hoosiers’ 52 points are the second-lowest amount of points Ohio State has given up this season. Ohio State improved to 12-2 when leading at the half.
+ With 10 points against the Hoosiers, senior point guard C.J. Jackson crossed the 900-point mark for his career. Jackson now has 902 career points. Jackson was 2-for-4 from 3-point range, extending his made 3-point streak to 17 of the last 18 outings and has scored at least one 3-pointer in all but two games this season. Jackson led the Buckeyes with four assists. He added four rebounds and one steal for Ohio State.
+ Illinois leads the overall series vs. Ohio State 102-73. Ohio State is 45-41 in Columbus while the Illini own a 60-26 advantage in Champaign. On neutral courts, the Buckeyes lead 2-1. Ohio State is 30-21 all-time vs. Big Ten teams on neutral courts. The Buckeyes defeated Illinois in Chicago at the United Center Dec. 5, 2018 in the other meeting this year. C.J. Jackson is the most experienced Buckeye in the Illinois series with two games played. He averages 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. Sophomore Kaleb Wesson scored 10 points a year ago in the only meeting with the Illini. He also added 10 rebounds.
The Illinois Fighting Illini
What You Should Know
+ For the first time in school history, Illinois has a pair of freshmen serving as its top-two leading scorers during conference play in Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili. They are also the reigning recipients of the Big Ten’s weekly awards. It marked the first time in conference history that a school claimed both Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week awards with two different freshmen, and is the first time Illinois has swept both player and freshman accolades in the same week since the league began the freshman award for the 2010-11 season.
+ Thursday’s meeting in Columbus features teams tied for the league’s longest active winning streak, with both the Fighting Illini and Buckeyes winners of three straight (matched by Iowa). The Illini are only 2-14 at Value City Arena, posting a 1-point win in 2004 and a 2-point victory in 2009. Illinois enters Thursday’s contest looking to win four straight Big Ten games for the first time since its four-game conference winning streak from Feb. 18-March 1, 2017.
+ Giorgi Bezhanishvili averaged 25.5 points and 6.0 rebounds on the week, dominating the paint to the tune of 69 percent accuracy (20-29 FG) while showing an improved stroke at the free throw line, converting 79 percent (11-14 FT). In the win over Rutgers, he broke the all-time Illini freshman single-game scoring record with 35 points. He made 14-of-18 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws to break the previous Illini freshman record of 34 points set by Deon Thomas, a mark that stood for nearly 29 years (Dec. 3, 1990). All but six of his points came during the second half and overtime. He hit 12-of-13 field goals and 5-of-5 free throws after intermission. His 14 baskets were the most by an Illini player in the last 27 seasons (Deon Thomas, 16, Dec. 30, 1991). He scored 15 straight for the Illini during a 7-minute stretch from 9:39 to 2:36 left in regulation, and had a personal 4-0 run in overtime to put the Illini ahead for good. He is one of only two players in the nation this season and the only one from the six major conferences to score at least 35 points without attempting a 3-pointer.
+ Ayo Dosunmu averaged 18.0 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals on the week. In the victory over No. 9 Michigan State, he erupted for a game-high 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 4-of-8 from three and 4-of-4 from the line while also adding 3 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots. The four treys and three steals both tied career highs, while his 24 points was one shy of his career best. It was his seventh 20-point game of the season, ranking second on the Illini all-time list for freshman, now just one away from the record. Five of those 20+ point outings have been since Big Ten play resumed on Jan. 2, with four coming against ranked league foes.
+ The Illini have three interchangeable guards in Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu and Andres Feliz who have played some of their best basketball together recently. Over the last five games, the trio is combining to average 41.8 points while shooting nearly 49 percent from the field and posting a 1.67 assist/turnover ratio, and most importantly leading the Illini to a 4-1 record during that stretch.