After facing a halftime deficit for the first time this season, No. 19 Ohio State (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten) came out swinging in the second half with 43 points to secure the 77-67 victory on the road against Illinois (2-7, 0-2 Big Ten).
Freshman guard Luther Muhammad returned to the starting lineup after dislocating his shoulder against Syracuse on Nov. 28. Muhammad missed all three of his shots in the first half, finishing with six points and one made 3 pointer.
After going scoreless against Minnesota in his second start of the season in place of Muhammad, redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods exploded for 18 points off the bench and shot 60 percent from the field to lead the Buckeyes to their eighth win of the season.
Ohio State jumped out to an early 12-6 lead, trading 3 pointers with Illinois. After going back and forth, a series of turnovers by the Fighting Illini allowed the Buckeyes to jump out to a 30-22 lead.
The Buckeyes allowed the lead to evaporate with their own series of turnovers and missed shots, and the Illini took a 38-34 lead back to the locker room at halftime. Both teams were three for nine beyond the arc in the first half.
After the Illini extended their lead to 40-34 coming out of the half, sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson found the net on two straight possessions to make it a two-point game. The teams exchanged baskets before Woods was fouled on a jumper and completed the three-point play to tie the game at 46 with 15:22 remaining.
Freshman guard Duane Washington. connected on a shot to give the Buckeyes a 52-51 lead with 13:26 remaining, their first lead since late in the opening half. Washington finished with nine points, going 60 percent from the floor.
Woods made two free throws followed by a layup by sophomore guard Musa Jallow a few possessions later to further extend the lead. Muhammad then hit from 3, his first made basket of the game, to give the Buckeyes a six-point lead with 10:52 remaining.
After Muhammad’s shot, the Buckeyes didn’t look back, finishing the game on an 16-14 run in the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Buckeyes were four for nine from 3 in the second half and limited the Fighting Illini to 29 points in the final 20 minutes.
Overall, Ohio State was 47.1 percent from the field and six of 17 from three. Illinois shot 33.9 percent overall and made six of their 18 attempts from beyond the arc.
Woods led the team in scoring while Kaleb Wesson added 13 points.
The Buckeyes will take a short break before returning home against Bucknell on Dec. 15.