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Men’s Basketball: No. 19 Ohio State hits the road to take on Illinois

Ohio State freshman guard Luther Muhammad (1) sits out the game and cheers with the rest of the Buckeyes due to a dislocated shoulder on Dec. 2. Ohio State won 79-59. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

The Ohio State men’s basketball team (7-1, 1-0 Big Ten) will travel to Chicago to take on Illinois (2-6, 0-1 Big Ten) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.

The Buckeyes come into the game following a 79-59 victory at home against Minnesota to open the Big Ten season following their first loss of the season to Syracuse the past week.

The Fighting Illini limped through a challenging non-conference slate that featured three losses in the Maui Invitational tournament that featured several highly ranked teams such as No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 3 Duke, in November.

The Illini fell to No. 1 Gonzaga, Xavier and Iowa State in the tournament by an average of just over 10 points per contest.

Projected Starters

No. 19 Ohio State (7-1, 1-0)

G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 13.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.9 apg

G — Keyshawn Woods – Redshirt Senior, 7.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg

F — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 7.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 apg

F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 8.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 apg

F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 14.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.0 apg

Illinois (2-6, 0-1)

G — Trent Frazier – Sophomore, 14.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.4 apg

G — Aaron Jordan – Senior, 11.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.9 apg

G — Ayo Dosunmu – Freshman, 13.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.1 apg

F — Giorgi Bezhanishvili – Freshman, 10.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.5 apg

F — Kipper Nichols – Redshirt Junior, 7.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.3 apg

Under head coach Brad Underwood, Illinois has yet to find a full-time starting five this season, something Underwood has said he expects to continue.

Illinois features four players that average double-digit scoring averages through the first eight games of the season, led by sophomore guard Trent Frazier, who has started all seven of the games in which he has appeared.

Following the injury to freshman guard Luther Muhammad, Ohio State has looked to redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods to fill in the final spot in the starting five.

Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said he has been pleased with what Woods has brought to the team both on and off the court following his transfer from Wake Forest, although Holtmann admitted Woods did not have his best game in Sunday’s win against Minnesota.

Woods will need to bounce back to form and help fellow senior guard C.J. Jackson carry the load in the backcourt for the Buckeyes during Muhammad’s absence.

For sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson, he will be tasked with matching up against Illinois’ pair of post players in freshman forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili who averages 10 points per game and five rebounds per game, as well as seven-foot graduate transfer center Adonis De La Rosa, who does not often make his presence felt on the stat sheet, but will certainly pose a challenge to Wesson due to his size.

The Buckeyes and Illini are scheduled to tip off from the United Center in Chicago Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

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