COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — No. 7 Ohio State struggled late to lose its fourth game in a row as the Buckeyes lost their regular season finale 73-68 to No. 4 Illinois on Saturday.
OSU failed to score in the last 3:47 of the game missing 10 shots in a row after E.J. Liddell gave the Buckeyes a 68-64 lead with just under four minutes to play. Liddell and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu both scored a game-high 19 points, but it was Dosunmu who took over late scoring six of the Illini’s last nine points to seal the win.
Three of Ohio State’s last four losses have comes to teams ranked in the top 10. The Buckeyes enter the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 5 seed and will face the winner of Minnesota/Northwestern on Thursday.
Despite Illinois only making four three pointers and big man Kofi Cockburn being held to 12 points, Illinois was still able to shoot better than 50% from the field as Ohio State continued to struggle on defense.
The Buckeyes shot an uncharacteristic 40% from the field while Justice Sueing and Duane Washington Jr. both chipped in 15 points in the loss.
Ohio State also failed to take advantage of being in the bonus for the last 10 minutes of the second half. OSU only attempted 11 free throws all game compared to Illinois’ 15 makes on 24 attempts.
This could be the last home game for seniors Kyle Young and CJ Walker who have a chance to return next year due to this year not counting as a year of eligibility for Division I athletes. OSU coach Chris Holtmann said Walker will go pro while Young will make that decision after the season ends.
Ohio’s State’s losing skid is a far cry from where the Buckeyes were two week ago when they won seven games in a row and looked like a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. OSU’s seeding is unknown now but a strong run in the Big Ten Tournament could help them gain a No. 2 or 3 seed.