Ohio State basketball remained perfect - and will remain #1 in all of college basketball - after a gritty 73-68 come-from-behind win over Illinois at Assembly Hall. The Buckeyes trailed 50-42 midway through the 2nd half before going on an 11-0 run that gave Ohio State a 53-50 lead - a lead they would never relinquish.
Buckeyes' forward Jared Sullinger, a true-freshman, led Ohio State with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Sullinger is starting to gain momentum as a possible #1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft should he decide to enter - something that should be on the minds of Cleveland Cavaliers fans.
Jon Diebler added 15 for the Buckeyes, who trailed 34-33 at halftime. The game saw 6 lead changes and 6 ties, with each team leading by as many as 8 points.
Illinois used a slow, methodical offense to control much of the game. By protecting the basketball, and hitting open shots, Illinois took a 50-42 lead and looked to be on their way to an upset of the undefeated Buckeyes. Ohio State used the free throw line to get back into the game, scoring 5 straight points from the stripe before back-to-back three point shots by Deshaun Thomas and Jon Diebler gave Ohio State the lead.
The Buckeyes held Illinois scoreless for nearly 6 minutes, extending their lead to 56-50 with 7:44 to go in the game. From there, the home team could get no closer than 3 until the final seconds when Mike tisdale hit a step-back three to get Illinois within 69-68. A pair of Aaron Craft free throws extended the lead back to 71-68 and Illinois could get no closer.
For the game, Ohio State was 24/27 from the free throw line, while Illinois went 8/10.