But first, a closer look at the Buckeyes…
No. 11 Illinois (13-2) vs. No. 8 Ohio State (11-2)
Sat., Jan. 5, 1:15 p.m. - Champaign, Ill. - Assembly Hall (16,618)
Big Ten Network (Announcers: Kevin Kugler, Jim Jackson)
Notes (from Ohio State sports information):
- Ohio State has won 11 of the last 14 meetings with the Illini, including four of the last six games in Champaign. Overall, Illinois owns the series lead with 100-65 record and a 59-24 lead in Champaign. As a ranked team, Ohio State is 22-10 in the Illinois series. Illinois is 35-10 when ranked in games vs. Ohio State. When both teams carry an Associated Press Top 25 ranking, the series is tied at five games apiece.
- In the recent release of national statistics, Ohio State ranks among the Top 15 in assist-to-turnover ratio (9th/+1.5) and fewest turnovers per game (8th/10.3 per game). The Buckeyes are No. 6 in scoring margin (+21.2) and No. 15 in turnover margin (+4.8).
- Ohio State's reserves have contributed 32 or more points five times and in four of the last eight games. In all of last season the Buckeye bench scored 30 or more points in a game just three times. This season, Ohio State reserves provide an average of 24.0 points a game, outscoring opponent reserves by just over 10 points a game.
- Thirteen games into his junior season, Aaron Craft is closing on the Ohio State all-time steals record with 193 to date, good for No. 2 all-time in Ohio State history. Jay Burson (1986-89) is Ohio State's career leader with 204.
- A total of 24 Ohio State players have scored 1,000 or more points to go with 500 career rebounds. Deshaun Thomas (1,156 career points) will be the next to join the club with 69 rebounds. Jared Sullinger was the last to reach the milestone with 1,282 career points and 717 career rebounds.
Deshaun Thomas - F, Jr., 6-7, 225 - 19.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg
Sam Thompson - F, Soph., 6-7, 190 - 7.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Evan Ravenel - F, Sr., 6-8, 260 - 6.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Aaron Craft - G, Jr., 6-2, 190 - 8.3 ppg, 5.0 apg
Lenzelle Smith Jr. - G, Jr., 6-4, 205 - 11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Off the bench:
Series record: Illinois leads 103-70
Series streak: Ohio State W1
Record @ Champaign: Illinois leads 60-25
Series streak @ Champaign: Illinois W1
Last year's meetings:
Illinois 79, No. 5 OSU 74 (Jan. 10, 2012 @ Champaign)
No. 8 OSU 83, Illinois 67 (Feb. 21, 2012 @ Columbus)
Groce vs. Ohio State: First meeting
Illinois coach John Groce on his general thoughts about OSU…
"They're very well coached. They execute well. I'm concerned about transition. I'm concerned about (Aaron) Craft. Obviously Deshaun Thomas is having an All-American type year. They rebound the ball, top 40 in the country on the glass."
Groce on Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft…
"Obviously Craft is really talented. I think he's kind of the heart of their team. When I watch him on film I really have a great admiration for him."
Groce on OSU leading scorer Deshaun Thomas…
"Any time you talk about Ohio State you talk about a guy that's averaging 20 points a game, that's very efficient shooting… rebounds it at the level that DeShawn does, he's a load. He can get you inside and out, on the glass, he can post you, drive and shoot it. He's a versatile player and that's what makes him such a threat."