CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois basketball suffered it’s second-straight upset at the State Farm Center, losing to Ohio State 87-81. It’s the first time this season the Illini have lost two in a row, after Buckeye’s forward EJ Liddell made himself right at at home with a career-day.
As a former Illinois prospect the Belleville, IL native scored 26 points. In his career, both of his best games have come against Illinois. Against the Illini last season, Liddell earned his first career double-double in a 71-63 win.
“I mean it’s my home state school but that’s not what motivated me today,” says Liddell. “It was my teammates, I felt like I needed to do more to help us win today.”
Liddell did that and then some, especially in the first half, scoring eight straight points on a 15-0 Buckeyes run in another sloppy start for the Illini. They shot just 40.7% from the field, and 30% from the three point line in the first half. Ayo Dosunmu led the team with 22 points.
“I’m at a loss. I wish I could say I can pinpoint that,” says head coach Brad Underwood. “We can’t just keep taking body blows, and we can’t just keep coming out flat and lifeless and emotionless and with no spirit.”
“We got to come out hard and I know we can do it,” says Illinois guard Adam Miller. “You guys are going to see it very soon, it’s just that one last step for us to be that great team.” Miller scored 14 points, and was 3-8 from the behind the arc.”
With 15 seconds left on the clock, and Illinois down by two, it appeared that Duane Washington Jr. stepped out of bounds. It wasn’t called, but instead they called a foul. That was the last chance for Illinoi. and head coach Brad Underwood was visibly upset at the refs as the team left the court.
In the press conference, he was honest and open about his team’s issues as he’s ever been, saying everything will be address with a team meeting first thing on Sunday morning.
“There’s going to be a pretty good meeting, there’s going to be a lot of things aired that you guys will never know about but we’re going to get some things aired out,” says Underwood. “We’re going to get some things figured out, that’ll be first thing in the morning.”
Illini have to make a quick turnaround this week, with Penn State on the schedule next. Their game against the Nittany Lions was moved from Wednesday to Tuesday, and they will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on BTN.