No. 19 Ohio State rallies in second half, beats Illinois

CHICAGO (AP) — After going scoreless in the previous game, Keyshawn Woods was determined to make a positive impact Wednesday night.

He stepped up precisely when Ohio State needed it.

Woods scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, Kaleb Wesson added 13 and the 19th-ranked Buckeyes rallied in the second half for a 77-67 victory over Illinois.

Musa Jallow had 11 points and nine rebounds as the Buckeyes (8-1) improved to 2-0 in the Big Ten.

“I know I struggled in the last game, but the season’s long,” Woods said. “You’re going to have those up and downs, but you try not to have two in a row. That was my mentality coming into this game.”

Trent Frazier and Kipper Nichols scored 18 apiece as Illinois (2-7, 0-2) dropped its third straight.

The Illini have lost 12 in a row to ranked teams. The school’s last victory against a Top 25 opponent was 68-66 over No. 20 Iowa in the second round of the 2016 Big Ten Tournament.

“I was really pleased with our first half,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “I thought, probably for a six-, seven- or eight-minute stretch, that was as good as we’ve looked, and the way I envision us.

“We were flying around, we took them out of what they wanted to do and the ball moved and we got some easy baskets.”

The second half was a different story, though. The Buckeyes shot 12 of 21 (57.1 percent) in the final 20 minutes to flip the game. The Illini went 9 for 33 (27.3 percent) after halftime.

“We did not play with great poise in the first half, and we didn’t coach with great poise in the first half,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “But I’m proud of our guys for responding.”

Ohio State had a 30-22 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the first half before the Illini closed with a 16-4 run for a 38-34 halftime lead.

The frustration for Holtmann boiled over midway through the spurt when he picked up a technical foul for protesting a no-call at the Ohio State basket.

Aaron Jordan made one of the two technical free throws to give Illinois a 31-30 lead with 2:48 left.

Both teams shot 40 percent from the field in the first half, but the difference was Illinois going 15 for 19 at the free throw line compared to 7 of 12 for Ohio State.

The Illini maintained a slim lead for the first several minutes of the second half, but the Buckeyes went back on top, 52-51, on a scoop shot by Duane Washington Jr. with 13:26 to play.

That basket was part of a 15-2 run as Ohio State turned a 51-48 deficit into a 63-53 lead with nine minutes to go.

BIG PICTURE

Ohio State: After playing three games in eight days — including a loss to Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge — the Buckeyes get nine days off before returning to the court.

Illinois: The Illini’s two wins are against Evansville and Mississippi Valley State. They don’t have any glaring losses and have played tough against good teams, but a win against a major program is sorely needed.

UNITED FRONT

The announced crowd of 5,285 was well short of capacity in the 20,000-seat United Center, but the players seemed to enjoy the environment nonetheless.

“It’s an honor playing in an NBA arena,” Woods said, “especially where (Michael Jordan) played.”

BOUNCE BACK

Frazier was helped to the locker room after a hard foul with under two minutes remaining, but returned to finish the game.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Hosts Bucknell on Dec. 15.

Illinois: Hosts UNLV on Saturday.

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