Keita Bates-Diop scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed 13 rebounds Sunday as No. 17 Ohio State overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to subdue Illinois 75-67 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Jae’Sean Tate added 11 for the Buckeyes (20-5, 11-1 conference), who moved within a game of first-place Purdue in the Big Ten. Ohio State travels to play the Boilermakers on Wednesday night.
Kaleb Wesson contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Buckeyes, including a putback with 48 seconds left to make it a five-point game. It was fitting that rebounding played a role in a crucial late bucket, because Ohio State dominated the Fighting Illini on the glass 45-22.
Mark Alstork paced Illinois (12-12, 2-9) with 19 points and freshman Trent Frazier added 12 — all after halftime. But the Fighting Illini couldn’t overcome their large disadvantage on the glass, as well as 40.4 percent field-goal shooting.
The Buckeyes took the lead for good on a layup by Wesson with 3:39 remaining, making it 65-63. That occurred in the middle of a 10-0 burst that C.J. Jackson capped with a driving layup at the 1:50 mark for a 70-63 advantage.
Illinois dominated the first 10 minutes, scoring at will and using pressure defense to knock Ohio State off-balance. It reeled off 11 straight points in a 2:39 span to grab a 28-13 advantage at the 10:51 mark on two free throws by Alstork.
When Kipper Nichols converted a jumper with 10:11 remaining, the Fighting Illini led 30-15. Amazingly, those were their last points of the half. The Buckeyes rattled off 19 consecutive points to close out the half, taking the lead at the 3:12 mark on a layup by Andre Wesson.
Bates-Diop finished the half with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and also added six rebounds.
Ohio State canned 46 percent of its field-goal attempts and also reaped a major advantage at the free-throw line. Ohio State was 26-of-33, while Illinois made 12 of 17 attempts.
— Field Level Media