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Illinois runs away from Ohio State for fifth win in six games

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Ohio St Illinois Basketball

Illinois' Matthew Mayer (24) is defended by Ohio State's Sean McNeil during a Jan. 24 game in Champaign, Ill. Mayer had 12 points and eight rebounds

CHAMPAIGN — A couple of days off did Illinois some good, with the team giving a resounding response after its loss to Indiana.

Terrence Shannon Jr. had a game-high 17 points while Illinois beat Ohio State 69-60 on Tuesday. The Illini (14-6, 5-4 Big Ten) held Ohio State (11-9, 3-6) to 36.7% from the field and held freshman and future NBA Draft pick Brice Sensabaugh to just five points in the final 12 minutes. The Illini also outrebounded the Buckeyes 44-30.

Ohio State got out to an early lead, but a 9-1 lead led by Shannon gave it back to Illinois. Later, a Shannon slam and a Matthew Mayer 3 pushed the lead to double digits late in the first before Illinois led 34-26 at the half.

Illinois had some shaky offense to start, with three turnovers in the first 4½ minutes, but finished with just five in the first half. Better execution meant slashing from Shannon and some open jump shots by Mayer and Coleman Hawkins.

Dain Dainja went to the bench early in the first in foul trouble, with two fouls in six minutes, so Brandon Lieb got spot minutes again for the Illini. Hawkins also played the five for a good portion of the half. Hawkins finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

His main defensive assignment from tip was guarding Ohio State freshman and projected first-round pick Brice Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh is the Buckeyes’ leading scorer and came into the game averaging 17.5 points. He got into foul trouble early and had nine first-half points on 3-for-7 shooting before finishing with 14 points shooting 5-for-13 from the field.

Illinois got the first four points out of the break and then a couple of Jayden Epps 3s were part of a 10-0 run that stretched the lead to 17 with 15:13 left. Epps was put in the starting lineup for Sencire Harris and had - in his second-career start, his first coming Dec. 17 against Alabama A&M.

A 7-0 run by Ohio State in the middle of the half cut the lead to single digits before Illinois had another run to run away with it. Ty Rodgers and Coleman Hawkins traded tip passes to each other for slams to put Illinois up 16 with 6:17 left. Rodgers had four points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.

Next, Illinois travels to Wisconsin (12-6, 4-4) to play at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Follow Anderson Kimball on Twitter at: byAndy Kimball


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