No. 9 Ohio St. Downs Illinois 73-57
March 2, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Jon Diebler once again lit up Illinois from behind the arc, hitting seven 3-pointers for 21 points, to lead Ohio State (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) to a 73-57 victory on Tuesday night that assured the Buckeyes of at least a share of the Big Ten title.
It was the third conference title in the last five years for Ohio State (24-7, 14-4), winners of four straight overall and 13 of 15.
William Buford added 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Evan Turner contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds and David Lighty had 15 points for Ohio State.
DeMetri McCamey had 18 points for the Illini (18-12, 10-7), who have lost two straight and four of five.
Diebler hit six 3-pointers and scored 18 points in the Buckeyes' 72-53 rout at Illinois on Feb. 14.
After the game, fans rushed the court and cheered while several players ran over to their families to celebrate with them.
The crowd chanted "One more year!" for Turner, a front-runner for national player of the year who has not decided if he will give up his senior season to jump to the NBA.
Athletic director Gene Smith then presented the Big Ten championship trophy while the band played.
The Buckeyes used a 12-0 first-half run -- built around two 3s by Diebler -- to take the lead for good. The Illini stayed close before Ohio State scored 12 of 14 points to pad its lead.
The title was Ohio State's 18th. The victory also locked up the No. 1 seed in next week's Big Ten tournament, with the Buckeyes getting nine days off until they play in the quarterfinals in Indianapolis.
With Ohio State on top by four points at halftime, both teams tightened things up on defense.
The Buckeyes' lead hovered around four points until Kyle Madsen hit a baseline jumper and, after an Illinois turnover, Lighty took one quick step to the basket and scored on a left-handed layup while Illini big man Mike Tisdale picked up his third foul. Lighty's three-point play pushed the lead to 58-49 with 9 minutes left.
After McCamey picked up his first points of the half on an 18-foot jumper, the Buckeyes hurried the ball down the court and Buford hit a short jumper -- with Tisdale collecting his fourth foul. Buford's accompanying free throw made it 61-51.
Buford then stole a pass and drove, fouling out Tisdale, before hitting both free throws.
Illinois had made just 4-of-24 3-point shots in the earlier matchup, but came out connecting at Value City Arena. They hit six of their first 10 shots behind the arc and set the pace early.
The Buckeyes came back from a six-point deficit thanks to a 12-0 run fueled by Diebler's two 3-pointers to take a 28-21 lead. The Illini regained the lead at 33-32 on a three-point play by Brandon Paul, with the Buckeyes closing out the scoring on a jumper by Turner and Diebler's fifth 3-pointer of the half (he was 5-of-8) for a 37-33 halftime lead.
Ohio State's four seniors -- Madsen, Danny Peters, P.J. Hill and Mark Titus -- were honored before the game.