Illini 69, Buckeyes 60: Defense leads the way for a team that really can’t win without it

Coleman Hawkins (left) and Terrence Shannon Jr. led Illinois past Ohio State at State Farm Center.

Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

CHAMPAIGN — Are Ohio State and Illinois as good as they were a season ago?

Nope, not yet.

Is Buckeyes star Brice Sensabaugh as good as Illini star Terrance Shannon Jr.?

Same answer.

For only the second time in the last six tries at State Farm Center, the Illini dealt the Buckeyes a loss Tuesday — a 69-60 game that was far from picturesque yet put the mature, rugged skills of Shannon and the defensive capability of his team on display.

Sensabaugh came in ranked second nationally among freshman at 17.5 points per game and had led the Buckeyes (11-9, 3-6 Big Ten) in scoring in 10 straight contests. But the 6-6, 235-pounder — who’d fill the heck out of a football uniform — was held to a quiet 14 points and at times was overwhelmed by the Illini’s length. Coleman Hawkins held him in check for much of the night, and Brandon Lieb, Matthew Mayer and Hawkins each swatted at least one Sensabaugh shot near the basket.

Shannon, a veteran lefty put together powerfully himself at 6-6, 225, began the game as the only power-conference player in the country averaging at least 18 points, five rebounds and three assists and as the Big Ten leader in free throws attempted. He carried the Illini (14-6, 5-4) with 12 points, six of them from the foul line, in the first half and finished with 17 — all his points coming off drives to the basket, with the exception being an arena-rocking two-handed jam off a steal …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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