No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Illinois: First Half Notebook

Here are my first half thoughts as Ohio State and Illinois meet for the final game of the regular season in Columbus.
Publish date:

Halftime Score: Ohio State 37, Illinois 41

It's senior day for both Kyle Young and C.J. Walker, but neither one have had a particularly memorable first half. Young picked up two fouls and only played 11 minutes without scoring. Walker had 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting in 16 minutes of action.

This game has started out featuring the players that everyone expected. Kofi Cockburn is arguably the best post player in America and he got an early couple baskets. He's had two and-1's in the first seven minutes, but missed both free throws. It wasn't just him though - everyone was getting to the rim. Illinois' first 14 points all came in the paint.

The Buckeyes are getting some good early production from Duane Washington Jr. and Justice Sueing. After giving up the first six points of the game, the Scarlet and Gray ripped off 11 straight points to take the lead. Each hit an early 3-pointer.

Justin Ahrens hasn't been known for his defense this season, but I think he's giving a great effort on that end of the floor so far today. He forced a shot clock violation mid-way through the half and only got beaten off the dribble once during his first five minutes of action. But he's in a real funk from behind the 3-point line right now and the Buckeyes need him to snap out of it. 

Ahrens finally hit one from the right corner with fewer than four minutes to play before the break, and followed it with another one in the final minute of play.

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Ohio State's offense has been rather streaky during their 3-game losing streak. Today's game has a similar feel right now. Too many long stretches without points, combined with too many Illinois chances right at the rim.

Illinois has 22 of 29 points in the paint and is shooting 61 percent through 13 minutes. In that same stretch, the Buckeyes are shooting 35% for the game and have missed eight of their last 10 shots.

In fact, to further illustrate how dominant the Illini have been near the hoop, they hit 17-of-23 2-pointers in the first half, of which almost every single attempt came from inside the paint. Ayo Dosunmu got off to a slow start, but he found driving lanes to the basket consistently after the opening stretch of play. He, Cockburn and Andre Curbelo all had double-digits in the first half.


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