CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- One thought drove Illinois coach Bruce Weber's planning for the Illini's game against No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday.
If his team could contain 7-foot freshman center Greg Oden, it might pull off an upset.Oden didn't score a point until the second half Saturday, but the Buckeyes' guards took up the slack with three scoring in double figures as Ohio State beat the Illini 62-44, their worst home loss since 1976.Daequan Cook scored 13 points to lead the Buckeyes (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten), while Jamar Butler had 12 and Ron Lewis 10."Going into the game the emphasis was to get it inside to (Oden)," said Butler, a junior. "But when you get double-, triple-teamed like that, it's hard to make shots."Instead the Buckeyes moved the ball around the perimeter, hitting nine of 29 three-pointers. Butler was 4-for-8 from 3-point range.Weber said his team handled Oden fairly well, but the Illini (12-5, 0-2) had no answer for his teammates."They spread you out so much that sooner or later you break down," said Weber, whose team has lost three straight games for the first time in his three-plus season at Illinois.The Illini, Weber said, lack leadership and confidence."We got a lot of doubters right now and I got to try to help them get through it," he said.Ohio State pulled away late in the first half to take a 36-22 lead on a run largely driven by 3-pointers. The Buckeyes led by as many as 22 points over the final 20 minutes.Oden finished with seven points and 15 rebounds, and left Illinois with little chance to establish any inside offense."He definitely clogged the lane in there," said Illini forward Warren Carter, who had 11 points and eight rebounds.Neither team shot well, but Illinois finished at 24.1 percent (14-of-58). The Illini were 3-of-23 from 3-point range with Roger McBride, who had four points, missing all six of his 3-point attempts."They had good looks," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "It was one of those situations when shots didn't fall for them."Saturday's win was Ohio State's first on the road this season and it gives the Buckeyes momentum in a tough stretch that next takes them to No. 4 Wisconsin on Tuesday.The loss was the Illini's worst in Champaign since an 83-55 thumping by Indiana in 1976. The Hoosiers, coached by Bobby Knight, were ranked No. 1 and went on the win the national championship. That was the last Division I team to finish a season without a loss.That was Lou Henson's first season as Illinois' head coach. Henson was at Saturday's game for an Illini reunion.