Illinois knocks off Ohio State in battle of ranked Big Ten schools
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Brandon Paul had 19 points and seven rebounds, leading 11th-ranked Illinois in a 74-55 romp of No. 8 Ohio State at Assembly Hall.
Nnanna Egwu totaled a career-high 16 points and eight boards for the Fighting Illini (14-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who rebounded from Wednesday's conference-opening loss at Purdue with a dominating performance. Tracy Abrams filled the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
"I thought our toughness and togetherness was exceptional," Illinois coach John Groce said.
Deshaun Thomas scored 24 points for Ohio State (11-3, 1-1), which was limited to 33.3 percent shooting.
Illinois scored the game's first five points and never looked back.
The Fighting Illini went up 21-11 on a Paul dunk and Egwu hit a jumper to make it 37-21 with 2:20 left in the first half. They settled for a 37-25 edge at the half after shooting 50 percent (17-of-34).
Illinois started the second half on an 13-2 burst, with a Joseph Bertrand basket extending the lead to 50-27. Abrams drained a 3-pointer to give the Fighting Illini their largest lead at 56-31 with 10:43 remaining.
The Buckeyes closed to within 14 before Illinois countered with a 7-0 run.
Paul has scored in double figures in all 16 games this season, the longest streak of his career ... Illinois is 6-5 when both teams are ranked ... Thad Matta coached in his 300th career game with Ohio State ...Bertrand had 12 points and three blocks ... Aaron Craft supplied 11 points for the Buckeyes.
01/05 19:59:11 ET
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