2012 NCAA Illinois vs Ohio State
Big Ten battle…
January 10, 2012
Illini knocked off number 5 ranked Ohio State 79-74 in front of 14,636 faithful fans behind the superb play of Brandon Paul, who finished the contest with 43 points, of which, was eight three-pointers (third highest in Illinois basketball history).
“I just kept shooting,” said Paul after the game. “It (basketball) felt comfortable.”
Paul played big on both sides of the ball… defensively he snagged six boards and four blocks – two of them he threw the ball into the stands.
At the half, the Buckeyes had a 5 point lead, 39-34, led by Jared Sullinger who had 13, but coach Webber got the team focused.
Key halftime stat for the home team was they never shot a free throw in the first half… while the Buckeyes are 3-3.
“We were able to make a couple plays down the stretch,” said coach Webber. “In this heavyweight bout, we were able to stand up for the match and get the victory.”
Coach Webber also believes Paul hitting a couple early free-throws in the second half got his confidence up. And down the stretch he joked “tonight was a Tebow moment for Brandon.”
The Illini were not able to stop Sullinger, but they sure did slow him down from his normal dominance. He finished with 21 points, five boards and zero blocks.
“We didn’t guard Paul as good as we should have,” Thad Matta said after the game. “We just didn’t do things well tonight. He just kept getting us off the backdoor screen”
Buckeyes shot 47% from the field and 33.3% from behind the arc, while Illinois went 60% and 61.1% from the arc.
Meyers Leonard played 38 minutes in the contest and finished with 14 points and five boards. “That’s (38) is a lot of minutes for a big man,” he said after the game giggling with us.
As for the future of Illini basketball Paul shared with us that “in a game like this hopefully it can carry us and make us focus down the stretch.”
Paul scored the last 15 points for the #illini and he finished with 4-3!!!!
NOTE: Paul’s 43 points is first 40-pt game for a Big Ten player since OSU’s Jared Sullinger last year. Before that? MSU’s Shawn Respert in 1995.
“Right now, the team needs some rest,” concluded coach Webber as their next game isn’t until January 19 as they travel to Penn State. OSU turns things around a little quicker hosting Indiana January 15.
This is definitely an instant classic for the BIG Ten… plus Lou Henson’s banner now hangs for years to come from the rafters of the house he built. You can watch the banner being raised by clicking hereBanner.
See you from the pressbox.
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