Thoughts on Ohio State basketball’s 69-60 road loss to Illinois

It looked like Ohio State had found its offensive groove again in their win over Iowa, but the Fighting Illini had a say. Illinois would hold on to the Buckeyes, hold down the offense and go for a 69-60 home win.

Not much was going on for Ohio State in this instance, another frustrating performance from Chris Holtmann’s group. The loss put the Buckeyes on a six-year winning streak at Champaign.

After an effort like this, there were many thoughts, most of which were very similar to those we saw during the last five-game losing streak. Find out my thoughts below on another hard-to-watch loss in Ohio State.

The offense we saw against Iowa wasn’t there tonight

Why it mattered

After the offense broke out against Iowa for 93 points, you might have thought the Buckeyes got their mojo back. Well, that wasn’t the case as they put up a mighty fight against the Illini. The lack of ball movement reared its ugly head again and it showed. The Buckeyes shot less than 40% from the field and just 60% from the line. Of the 22 shots fired, Ohio State had just 8 assists, further adding to their non-existent offensive flow. You can’t expect to hit the streets in the Big Ten and win with poor shooting and no ball movement.

The length of the illini caused problems for the horse chestnuts

Why it mattered

The home team started with three players who were 6ft, 9in or taller, and that bothered the smaller Buckeyes. Not only the rebound hurt, but also contested shots and overtaking lanes. The Illini passed the Buckeyes, 44 to 30 while forcing 6 turnovers (although it seemed like more). The home team’s long arms slowed the transition game and didn’t allow Ohio State a fast-break basket. There’s not much to say about the length and that made the night on the Buckeyes very difficult.

Zed Key’s struggles continue

Why it mattered

We didn’t know if the veteran Buckeye would play Big Man after pinching his knee late against Iowa. [autotag]zed key[/autotag] In the end, he started the game, but again he didn’t make much of an impression. He fouled late after scoring just 8 points and grabbing just 3 rebounds. It’s been a big fight for Key this season with injuries, but there’s no denying that he’s a warrior. However, he needs a break. Knee, shoulder and other pains Key is suffering could use a week’s rest, even as losses continue to mount.

Sensabaugh fought

Why it mattered

The first half was a solid performance [autotag]Brice Sensabaugh[/autotag] but the second was a different story. Nine points at halftime looked like the newcomer was about to head off for another 20-point performance. That didn’t happen.

With just under five minutes remaining, Sensabaugh scored his first points of the second half. He would add a few more points to finish at 14, with some of the points coming when the Illini held the game in hand. Because as efficient as a goalscorer he was against Iowa, it was a complete 180 against Illinois. For this team to score at a high level, their best player needs to be just that.

Ice was cold

January 24, 2023; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Matthew Mayer (24) blocks a shot from Ohio State Buckeyes guard Isaac Likekele (13) during the first half at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Why it mattered

After nearly hitting a triple-double in the last game, [autotag]Isaak Likele[/autotag] was rewarded with another start. He wasn’t nearly as effective on this occasion, shooting 2 out of 8 and only scoring 5 points overall. Likelele added just two assists and five rebounds while committing a turnover. The urgency that “Ice” played with in the last game wasn’t there against Illinois. He needs to produce better if the Buckeyes have any chance of winning and tonight wasn’t Likelele’s best performance.

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Story originally appeared on Buckeye Wire

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