Ross scores 18, Smith hits big 3 as No. 17 Ohio State beats Illini 62-55 to end 4-game slide

1/23/2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ohio State's Lenzelle Smith Jr., right, grabs a rebound against Illinois' Maverick Morgan during the first half Thursday in Columbus.
Ohio State's Lenzelle Smith Jr., right, grabs a rebound against Illinois' Maverick Morgan during the first half Thursday in Columbus.

COLUMBUS — LaQuinton Ross scored 18 points and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 16 — including a critical 3-pointer in the waning moments — to help No. 17 Ohio State end a four-game skid with a 62-55 win over Illinois on Thursday night.

Aaron Craft added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Buckeyes (16-4, 3-4 Big Ten), who had lost four in a row for the first time since 2007-08.

Joseph Bertrand had 19 points, Jon Ekey 11 and Nnanna Egwu 10 for the Illini (13-7, 2-5), who lost their fifth straight. They haven’t won since Jan. 4 and play three of their next four games against ranked opponents.

Rayvonte Rice, averaging 17.4 points a game, was 0 for 8 from the field and went scoreless. The Illini have lost their last six Big Ten road games and fell to 1-4 against ranked teams this season.