The wheels come off fast in the Big Ten, but Ohio State was able to temporarily regain control on Thursday. After dropping four straight games, the Buckeyes held off Illinois for a 62-55 win at home behind 18 points from LaQuinton Ross.
Illinois led by a point at halftime and looked poised to send Ohio State to a fifth straight loss until Ross posted nine quick points in the final six minutes, including a three that gave the Buckeyes the lead for good. Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three, to help Smith. Joseph Bertrand had 19 points to lead the Illini.
Ohio State next hosts Penn State before two brutal road games at Wisconsin and Iowa in a stretch that will show if the Buckeyes are truly over their mid-season struggles.
No. 6 Florida 68, Alabama 62
The Gators extended their winning streak to 10 with a second straight road win in the SEC. This one came over a Crimson Tide team that had won a league-best 14 SEC home games in a row.
Florida led for most of the night and clinched the victory by making eight out of 10 free throws in the final two minutes. The Gators also made 10 threes, five coming from Michael Frazier II. He led all scorers with 18 points. Alabama, meanwhile, struggled from long range, shooting just 2-of-12. Trevor Releford played all 40 minutes and scored 14 points to lead the Crimson Tide.
No. 1 Arizona 69, Colorado 57
The final margin was only 12, but Arizona controlled the game on Thursday, cruising to a relatively easy win over a reeling Colorado team. The Buffaloes have dropped three out of four and are down their leading scorer, Spencer Dinwiddie, with a torn ACL.
The Wildcats are now 19-0, tying their largest winning streak in team history, and are already off to their best-ever start. Nick Johnson had a team-high 18 points, while Brandon Ashley (15 points) and Aaron Gordon (12 points) dominated the paint.
Though Arizona was never truly threatened, Colorado did manage to cut a 19-point deficit with five minutes to go down to 11, thanks in part to several missed free throws and turnovers. Xavier Johnson led Colorado with 21 points thanks to 4-of-5 shooting beyond the arc.
No. 17 Cincinnati 69, Central Florida 51
It's not easy to win a game when your leading scorer shoots 2-of-13 from the field and only manages nine points. Isaiah Sykes picked a bad night to have such a game, as his Knights were blown out on the road by Cincinnati.
The Bearcats opened the second half on an 18-5 run to put away the Knights and stay unbeaten in the AAC. Sean Kilpatrick continued his quietly remarkable year with 19 points, while Justin Jackson added 12 more to go along with seven blocks. Cincinnati visits Temple next before a primetime matchup at Louisville on Jan. 30 in a game that will likely determine first place in the conference.
No. 23 Memphis 82, Houston 59
In a game that was never in doubt, Shaq Goodwin gave fans something to watch with a 20-point performance, including this fast-break dunk:
Opportunities like that contributed to the 60 percent shooting night for the Tigers, who improved to 4-2 in the AAC with the win. Joe Jackson added 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with seven assists for Memphis.
The Tigers forced 18 Houston turnovers, limiting the Cougars' chances. Houston did get 14 points from TaShawn Thomas, but that wasn't nearly enough to keep up with hot-shooting Memphis. Houston has now lost three out of four games since opening AAC play 2-0.