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Ohio State looks to ride momentum against Illinois

Jan 21, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Ohio State Buckeyes forward Zed Key (23) leaves the court with a knee injury during the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Value City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois looks to get back on track while Ohio State wants to continue its momentum from a streak-busting victory when the Big Ten foes meet in Champaign, Ill., on Tuesday.

The Buckeyes (11-8, 3-5 Big Ten) had lost five in a row until a 93-77 home win against Iowa on Saturday.

“We’ve only lost five league games,” Ohio State captain Isaac Likekele said. “Right now, that could feel like a lot because there’s barely been any played, but when you look at the end of a 20-game conference, five games isn’t a lot. … One game at a time. That’s all we can do.”

Illinois (13-6, 4-4) saw a four-game winning streak snapped after a 80-65 loss to visiting Indiana on Thursday to continue a trend.

In the Illini’s seven wins over major conference schools their average margin of victory is 15.4 points. In their losses, the margin is 13.2 points.

“We’ve got to do a better job looking at film and correcting the mistakes we made and we’ve got to do a better job against Ohio State,” Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. said.

It was an off night for Illinois against Indiana, caused in part by not having any rest for 19 straight days, coach Brad Underwood said.

“Mentally we were fatigued and physically we were worse,” he said. “We missed 14 free throws and 13 layups. I don’t care who you play, you’re not going to win.”

The Illini took a few days off after the Indiana game and should be fresher than the Buckeyes, who will play their fourth game, third on the road, since Jan. 15.

Of concern for Ohio State is that forward Zed Key hurt his left knee landing after a dunk with 21 seconds left in the game against Iowa.

“We do not expect it to be a long-term injury of any type,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said Monday. “What his availability is for Tuesday is still too early to say.”

Key is third on the team in scoring (12.1) and first in rebounding (8.1).

— Field Level Media