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Buckeyes use 3s to beat Illini

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Only a few minutes ticked off the clock Saturday before Bill Cole and his Illinois teammates had seen enough of Ohio State’s 3-point accuracy.

But with Jon Diebler and David Lighty each showing a hot hand, the Illini would see a lot more.

No. 13 Ohio State used a barrage of 3s, most of them from Diebler, to take an early 21-10 lead before finishing off Illinois, 72-53.

“Before we looked up we had a big deficit to look at,” Cole said. “They just kept raining those 3s in, and it was kind of downhill from there.”

The Buckeyes were 11 of 22 from 3-point range, including a 6-for-11 performance from Diebler, who led Ohio State with 18 points. Lighty hit a trio of 3-pointers and scored 17.

“We took great shots and, the important part, we made shots” said Ohio State’s Evan Turner who had 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

The Buckeyes (20-6, 10-3) held onto a piece of first place in the Big Ten, along with Michigan State. They’ve won nine in a row in the conference and six straight overall.

Illinois (17-9, 9-4) lost for the first time in six games and fell a game behind the conference leaders. The Illini took the court Saturday after back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin that put them back in the Big Ten title chase.

After trailing by one early, the Buckeyes used an 18-6 run to finish the Illini off early.

Illinois’ first and last lead (4-3) came just over two minutes into the game on a Mike Davis basket on a fast break.

A single free throw from Turner with 17:40 to play in the first half started the Buckeyes on an 18-6 run that gave them a 21-10 lead. Diebler ended the run with a 3-pointer — his second during that span — and the Buckeyes hit five of six shots from the field.