Our breakdown of Saturday's 74-55 romp of No. 8 Ohio State at the Assembly Hall:
Player of the Game: Illinois’ Nnanna Egwu
You know the big guy is going to pick up his boards and blocks. But when he steps outside and hits a bunch of 15-footers, he creates a real problem. The kind that has Stephen Bardo talking about him as a future NBA player. The Buckeyes, after Saturday, will happily pack his bags.
Ohio State C, Illinois B
Deshaun Thomas is a beast and might be the best player in the Big Ten. But he’s going to need some help from the other Buckeye big guys or the school can forget about a run at the Big Ten title. Tyler Griffey’s 0 for 6 on three-pointers is a blip rather than a trend.
Ohio State B-, Illinois B+
Something about Saturday afternoon basketball must bring out the best in Tracy Abrams. The Illini trio combined for seven three-pointers. It would be nice if it took fewer than 17 shots to get there. Aaron Craft was disruptive. At times.
Ohio State D, Illinois B
Joseph Bertrand was his usual self, scoring 12 points and helping out with five boards. No real reason to make him a starter if he keeps playing like this. The Buckeyes need to do better than 3 for 12 from the field. And the five turnovers hurt, too.
Ohio State C-, Illinois A
So, it took John Groce two Big Ten games to get his first win. And he did it against one of his bestest buddies (Thad Matta). The summer BBQ might not be as friendly between the two, but Groce’s guys needed the win. Panic meter goes back to zero. For now.