Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Deshaun Thomas scored 19 points and grabbed five boards as eighth-ranked Ohio State took down Illinois, 83-67, on Tuesday.
William Buford added 17 points and Aaron Craft contributed 11 for the Buckeyes (23-5, 11-4 Big Ten), who bounced back from a tough loss to then No. 17 Michigan on Saturday.
Meyers Leonard paced all scorers with 21 points for the Illini (16-12, 5-10), who have lost six in a row and nine of 10. D.J. Richardson contributed 12 in defeat.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State's leading scorer averaging 17.5 points entering Tuesday's contest, had nine points before fouling out with nearly five minutes remaining in the game.
The Buckeyes' relatively small margin of victory obscured how dominant they were throughout most of the game.
They shot 65.3 percent (32-of-49) from th field overall and 53.8 percent (7- of-13) from three point range. Illinois was held to 39.7 (25-of-63) and 16.7 (3-of-18) percent mark, respectively. The Buckeyes also shut down Brandon Paul, the guard who netted 43 points in the Illini's shocking 79-74 win over then-No. 5 Ohio State on January 10.
The Buckeyes came out firing and never looked back. Ohio State drained 19 of the game's first 23 points, capped off by a 10-0 spurt that put them up 15. It was a 42-26 home advantage at the half.
"It was obviously good to see the ball go in early," said Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. "I thought we got out and got some good shots and got the ball moving. We were able to get some good shots off of our defense. It was delightful to see, trust me. I know that, five or six times, we've had that one [shot] before and it didn't go down. We didn't do anything magical; they just went down for us tonight."
It was more of the same in the second. While the Buckeyes didn't go on a significant run, they prevented the Illini from doing the same. Well-executed playmaking ballooned their advantage to 26 on a jumper by Sullinger with 5:28 to play.
"They have so many offensive weapons and they can spread you out," said Illinois head coach Bruce Weber. "Our game at home we were able to move the ball around and get wherever we wanted. We didn't turn it over, which we have all year, but they got us stagnant. Finally, once we started moving the ball we were able to get it into Meyers [Leonard]. They had a sense of urgency and they play well here. Other than Michigan State, they have beat a lot of teams handily here. When you shoot the ball like that, you can just see they were in a zone. Every shot that went up seemed like it was going to be all net."
Illinois made the most of late Ohio State turnovers to trim their deficit as the game winded down, but ran out of time.
Ohio State committed 17 turnovers...The Illini lead the all-time series 100-65. It is tied 40-40 in Columbus.
02/21 22:48:49 ET