Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - D'Angelo Russell had 22 points and No. 20 Ohio State pulled away in the second half to dispatch Illinois 77-61 on Saturday afternoon.
Marc Loving posted 13 points and eight rebounds, while Sam Thompson added 13 points for the Buckeyes (12-3, 1-1 Big Ten), who have won three of their last four games.
"We got the ball out in transition, and we did a really nice job rebounding the ball tonight. Then we were able to execute offensively," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.
Rayvonte Rice tallied 20 points and seven boards for Illinois (10-5, 0-2), which has dropped its first two conference games.
"I am disappointed that defensively we weren't able to impose our will at any point of the game," Illinois coach John Groce said.
The Fighting Illini led 44-41 early in the second half after Kendrick Nunn knocked down a 3-pointer, but the Buckeyes ripped off the next 15 points to seize control.
Russell had eight points during the surge, but it was his defense that highlighted it. The instinctive Russell jumped a pass along the left sideline for a steal, and flipped a pass behind his back to Loving to keep the ball inbounds and start a fastbreak. Russell received a pass back from Loving for a layup to finish it. He then hit a left wing triple to cap the swing and give Ohio State a 56-44 margin at the 11:57 mark.
Ohio State led by as many as 20 down the stretch.
Earlier, Malcolm Hill's dunk put the finishing touches of a 11-2 Illinois flurry to stake it to a 34-26 margin with 4:16 to go in the opening half.
Ohio State, though, countered with a 10-1 spurt, with a Loving trey giving the Buckeyes a 36-35 edge.
Ahmad Starks nailed a jumper in the final minute for the Illini, who took a 37-36 advantage into the break.
Ohio State improved to 12-1 at home this season ... The Buckeyes have won 15 of the last 20 meetings between the schools since Matta took over as coach, although Illinois still owns a 101-69 lead in the all-time series ... Ohio State shot 60 percent (27-of-45) from the field.