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Grades are in: Rodgers' double-double critical in road win

Jan. 31—Player of the game

Illinois guard Ty Rodgers

Rodgers wasn't Illinois leading scorer Tuesday night at Ohio State. Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask both scored more, finishing with 23 points apiece. But how Rodgers put together 13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists was important. The sophomore guard was assertive offensively attacking the basket. He did plenty of that without the ball in his hands, too, with four offensive rebounds and several putbacks. Ohio State choosing to guard Rodgers like the rest of the Big Ten has — read, loosely — gave him the freedom to crash the boards without facing a consistent box out. A second career double-double was the result.

Backcourt

Illinois: A+

Ohio State: B-

The Buckeyes didn't have enough of an answer for the trio of Domask, Rodgers and Shannon, who combined for 59 points and did so relatively efficiently. Rodgers was 5 of 6 from the field, Domask 7 of 12 and Shannon 7 of 17 (thanks to going 6 of 10 in the second half). Roddy Gayle Jr. put up an efficient 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting, but Bruce Thornton had a rough night for Ohio State.

Frontcourt

Illinois: B

Ohio State: B-

It's been a month since Dain Dainja was the most productive big man on the Illinois roster. Almost to the day. Dainja scored 19 points in 16 minutes against Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 29 and then had 17 points in his next eight games combined. Foul trouble for Coleman Hawkins opened the door for more playing time for Dainja, and he responded with seven points and five rebounds.

Bench

Illinois: B

Ohio State: C+

Dainja's efforts helped the Illini secure a slight advantage on bench points, with Justin Harmon chipping in six first-half points that helped Illinois build a halftime lead it turned into a double-digit victory. Ohio State's bench points came late with the game mostly decided. Freshman Devin Royal scored all seven of his points after checking in for the first time with 6 minutes, 59 seconds to play.

Overall

Illinois: A-

Ohio State: C+

Did Illinois solve all of its defensive issues Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio? No. Ohio State shot 50 percent from the field and matched the Illini with 44 points in the paint. But the combination of a Big Ten road win and a Quad I win against the Buckeyes can help alleviate the concern about how easily opponents are scoring. "Defense wins championships" is the cliché, but having a productive offense isn't a bad thing.