COLUMBUS, Ohio – LaQuinton Ross scored 18 points and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 16 — including a critical 3-pointer in the waning moments — to help No. 17 Ohio State end a four-game skid with a 62-55 win over Illinois on Thursday night.
The Buckeyes (16-4, 3-4), haven’t won since Jan. 4 and play three of their next four games against ranked opponents.
“Even though we tried our best to put the losing streak behind us, this game was not about that. It was about coming out and finding a way to be better than Illinois. That was our only goal coming into this game, to get better,” said senior guard Aaron Craft.
Craft added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Buckeyes who had lost four in a row for the first time since 2007-08.
“The kids had a different look in their eyes this game. Our problem is not solved, we have a long way to go, but the time off will be a great time to recollect, reflect and get healthy,” head coach Thad Matta said.
Joseph Bertrand had 19 points, Jon Ekey 11 and Nnanna Egwu 10 for the Illini (13-7, 2-5), who lost their fifth straight.
Rayvonte Rice, averaging 17.4 points a game, was 0 for 8 from the field and went scoreless. The Illini have lost their last six Big Ten road games and fell to 1-4 against ranked teams this season.