Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ohio State Takes Care of Illinois

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ohio State Takes Care of Illinois

Article excerpt

COLUMBUS, Ohio First, No. 14 Ohio State won a game. Then, the Buckeyes watched a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship slip away.

Hours after Ohio State beat Illinois 68-55 on Sunday behind Deshaun Coleman's 19 points, the Buckeyes missed out on a piece of the conference title when No. 2 Indiana overcame a four-point deficit in the final minute to slip past No. 7 Michigan 72-71.

The victory gave the Hoosiers their first outright Big Ten crown in two decades. Ohio State (23-7, 13-5) had to be content with a strong stretch run and a close second-place finish. Its string of conference titles ended at three in a row.

"I like where we are now," Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said after his team's win. "With everything that's transpired in college basketball, we won five straight games (to close the regular season). You hope this team finishes in the final poll in the top 10. We've done that a lot of times now, which is hard to do in college basketball."

Beyond that, the Buckeyes will get ready for the conference tournament this week in Chicago where they'll be the No. 2 seed and play Friday night in the quarterfinals against either seventh- seeded Purdue or 11th-seeded Nebraska.

Point guard Aaron Craft said the Buckeyes took care of their business and were resigned that their fate was in another team's hands.

"There's no point worrying about something that we have no control over," said Craft, who had 14 points and six assists and, as usual, created havoc on defense for the Buckeyes in their win over Illinois. "Obviously, we would love for (a Michigan win) to happen. But if it doesn't, it's out of our hands. We did what we needed to do."

Three weeks ago Sunday, the thought of Ohio State even being included in the title talk was almost inconceivable. The Buckeyes were routed 71-49 at Wisconsin, a loss that knocked them two games behind the Big Ten leaders with just five left. …

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