COLUMBUS, OH (WCIA) — Illinois jumped out of the gate grabbing a 30-15 lead halfway through the first half, but then they went cold. The Illini went more than 11 minutes without scoring a point, allowing Ohio State to comeback. The Buckeyes held on for a 75-67 win.
Mark Alstork had a different look and feel to his game. With more than a dozen friends and family on hand, the Ohio native knew this was his last chance to play in his home state and the senior came to play scoring a season high 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting but an 11-minute, 31 second first half scoring drought ultimately proved to be too much to overcome.
“I just wanted to come out and be aggressive,” Alstork said. “Me and a couple of the teammates, we had a little meeting. They told me that they need me to be free and play and be who I am and so I wanted to go out there and show them that I was listening.”
The Illini had all the makings of an upset early and the first win over a ranked team in the Brad Underwood era, they led the 17th-ranked Buckeyes by 15 midway through the first half but OSU went on a 20-0 run. Despite some of the worst play by Illinois all season during that stretch, they still only trailed by four at the half.
“Shoot we were doing back flips. We were doing back flips in the locker room I mean hell you go 10 minutes without scoring against them and you’re only down four? It was frustrating because it’s something that we’ve got to continue to grow from,” Underwood said. “Again, when we play the right way and play our way, we’re really a good basketball team.”
Add this one to the growing list of yet another way Illinois loses a game. It seems like we’ve seen it all this season and when the Illini look back on this, they’ll no doubt think what could have been. It’s hard to win when you don’t score for more than 11 minutes, no matter the opponent.