Field Level Media
Feb 25, 2022
Malaki Branham scored 31 points and E.J. Liddell added 21 as No. 22 Ohio State overcame a 13-point first-half deficit then held on to defeat No. 15 Illinois 86-83 in Champaign, Ill., on Thursday.
Branham made 10 of 14 from the floor for the Buckeyes (18-7, 11-5 Big Ten) after the freshman scored 27 points vs. Indiana on Monday.
The Buckeyes also got 18 points from Kyle Young as they won their second straight.
Alfonso Plummer went 8 for 10 on 3-pointers for 26 points, Jacob Grandison chipped in with 14 and Kofi Cockburn scored 12 points for the Fighting Illini (19-8, 12-5) before fouling out with 4:33 to play.
The Buckeyes led by 16 late before 10 unanswered points by the Illini made it a one-possession game at 78-76.
They rallied despite coach Brad Underwood being ejected for arguing with the officials with 6:17 to play.
Trent Frazier (12 points) cut the Illini deficit to 84-83 on a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.
Young made 1 of 2 free throws with nine seconds left for an 85-83 lead. Frazier turned the ball over before Plummer fouled Cedric Russell with two seconds left. He also made 1 of 2 from the line and the Illini were unable to get the tying basket.
Ohio State battled back from a 21-8 deficit to trail 37-36 at the half.
Plummer led the scorching start by going 3 for 3 on 3-point attempts in the first five minutes en route to an 18-8 lead.
He led all scorers through 20 minutes by draining 6 of 7 from 3-point range for 18 points. He tops the Big Ten with 2.8 makes per game.
Young had 13 points for the Buckeyes, who had four first-half turnovers compared to two for the Illini.
Next for the Illini is a visit to Michigan on Sunday.
Ohio State plays at Maryland on Sunday before finishing the regular season with home games over a six-day span against Nebraska, Michigan State and Michigan.
--Field Level Media