Deshaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel and Aaron Craft headed to the Ohio State bench for good Saturday with just under 2 minutes to play. Their faces dripped with sweat and, as each tried to catch his breath, they looked beaten.
They were. Badly.
Thad Matta, the coach of the Buckeyes, was pulling the heart of his lineup from the game, throwing in the towel in a 74-55 road loss to Illinois he said he saw coming early. His hints were a flurry of turnovers, cold-as-ice shooting and an unlikely 16 points from Illini center Nnanna Egwu. The 6-foot-11 sophomore averaged 6.0 points a game coming in.
“We’d seen that he could shoot, but when he started knocking down 17-footers, it was like, ‘Geez, this is really their day,’ ” Matta said.
The Buckeyes (11-3 overall, 1-1 Big Ten Conference), normally a low-turnover team, gave the ball away 11 times in the first half and 15 overall. They shot 33 percent from the field and weren’t able to keep up with the Illini’s defense.
With the win the Illini (14-2, 1-1) bounced back from a stunning 68-61 loss to Purdue in their conference opener, and showed toughness the team lacked against the Boilermakers, coach John Groce said.
“Oh, I love it — that’s toughness plays, passion, inspiring plays,” Groce said. “Any time a guy sacrifices his body to make a play for his team, that’s the highest level of teamism — I don’t know if that’s a word.”
TOP 25 HIGHLIGHTS
At No. 1. Duke 80, Wake Forest 62: Ryan Kelly scored a season-high 22 points in the Blue Devils’ rout of the Deamon Deacons.
Seth Curry also had 22 points and Quinn Cook had a career-high 14 assists for Duke (14-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which shot 46 percent and hit 11 3-pointers.
Travis McKie had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Wake Forest (7-6, 0-1).
At No. 12 Missouri 66, Bucknell 64: Phil Pressey scored a career-high 26 points and Laurence Bowers added 16 to help the Tigers (11-2) get by the Bison.
Pressey missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 10.3 seconds to go, setting off a frenzied finish. With 1.9 second to go, Bucknell’s Mike Muscala missed two free throws. Stefan Jankovic of Missouri rebounded the second miss to end it.
Muscala led the Bison (13-3) with 25 points and 14 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
St. John’s 53, at No. 14 Cincinnati 52: JaKarr Sampson scored 16 points and D’Angelo Harrison added 15 and the Red Storm (9-5, 1-1 Big East Conference) beat the Bearcats (13-2, 1-1) in yet another close game between the teams.
Cashmere Wright, who finished with 23 points, scored a layup with 53 seconds to play gave the Bearcats a 52-51 lead.
Harrison responded with a jumper with 29 seconds left to regain the lead for St. John’s, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
At Marquette 49, No. 15 Georgetown 48: Davante Gardner made two free throws with 8.3 seconds left and the Golden Eagles hung on while the Hoyas missed a deciding free throw.
Lockett and Vander Blue had 12 points each for Marquette (11-3, 2-0 Big East), which has won four consecutive games. Georgetown (10-2, 0-1) had its seven-game winning streak snapped in its first road game of the season.
At No. 25 Kansas State 73, No. 22 Oklahoma State 67: Rodney McGruder scored all but two of his 28 points in the second half and the Wildcats (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) turned away a game effort from freshman Marcus Smart and the Cowboys (10-3, 0-1).
Smart scored on an assortment of driving layups, pull-up jumpers and free throws for a season-best 25 points.
No. 23 North Carolina State 78, at Boston College 73: Scott Wood atoned for a scoreless first half with 12 points in the second, hitting two 3-pointers and six free throws down the stretch as the Wolfpack (12-2, 1-0 ACC) won its ninth straight by edging the Eagles (8-6, 0-1).
At Rutgers 67, No. 24 Pittsburgh 62: Eli Carter scored 23 points and the Scarlet Knights (10-3, 1-1 Big East) held off a second-half rally to hand the Panthers their second straight loss (12-3, 0-2).
The victory was the first for Rutgers coach Mike Rice since returning from a three-game school-imposed suspension for inappropriate behavior earlier this week.The Associated Press