Ohio State basketball falls 75-70 at Illinois in Big Ten opener

Illinois survives Ohio State 75-70

The loss snaps a six-game Ohio State winning streak against IL and drops the Buckeyes to 9-4 in conference openers under coach Thad Matta.

Malcolm Hill had 20 points and six rebounds to lead IL (11-4, 1-1), which bounced back from a rough loss at Maryland (84-59) in its Big Ten opener. Jalen Coleman-Lands and Abrams each made two free throws from there to seal it.

After trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half and 11 with 17:35 to play, Lyle took over and the Buckeyes fought back.

If the Big Ten action on Sunday - Nebraska starting conference play 2-0, Iowa defeating MI, and Minnesota defeating Purdue - is any indication of how the season will play out, then the Illinois Fighting Illini stands more than a fair shot to have success and make the NCAA tournament.

OSU outscored IL 19-10 over the first seven minutes of the half to get the lead down to two at 50-48.

The Illinois bench outscored Ohio State's, 25-9, led by big men Michael Finke and Maverick Morgan with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

JaQuan Lyle scored 18 of his game-high 26 points after halftime, but it wasn't enough for Ohio State to overcome a double-digit second-half deficit.

The Buckeyes trailed 73-70 with 22 seconds left after a 3-pointer by Marc Loving.

Illinois: Coach John Groce's team won a game it needed to if it wants to be considered an NCAA Tournament team.

After a blowout loss at the hands of the Maryland Terrapins on Tuesday in their Big Ten opener, the Illinois Fighting Illini bounced back in a must-win game to avoid an 0-2 start to conference play. An 8-2 run pulled Ohio State within five points, and it was a 47-42 deficit for the Buckeyes when the sophomore got going. Ohio State will need to move past Sunday's loss with Purdue coming in to town to start a hard stretch of conference play.

Ohio State will have a few days off before hosting Purdue on Thursday.

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