Today was Evan Ravenel’s Senior Day at Ohio State, and while it may not have gone down exactly according to script the Bucks were able to give him a 68-55 win over the Illini as a going away gift. The game as a whole was a sluggish mess for both teams, but the Scarlet and Gray were able to find more consistency more frequently to help secure a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Ohio State was lead in scoring by DeShaun Thomas’ 19, Aaron Craft’s 14, and Lenzelle Smith’s 10. Illinois’ Brandon Paul lead the game with 21 and was joined in double digits by DJ Richardson’s 10.
Considering the result of the game 2 months ago, it was fair to assume that the Buckeyes would come into this game and play with extreme prejudice. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they instead began with what looked like empty gas tanks. There seemed to be no passion whatsoever, and the Bucks struggled to do much more than simply hang with the Illini. It seemed that OSU was one good run away from putting the game away early, and that run finally started to take shape around the last TV timeout of the half. Some beautiful play, including a behind-the-back save from Shannon Scott to trigger a fast-break, led by a stiffening defense gave the Bucks a nine point lead at the half.
The run did not survive the break in play. Both teams again seemed to sink into a slump coming out of the half. The Buckeyes couldn’t seem to increase their advantage, partially due to poor decision making, and the Illini couldn’t bring it any closer. It was the 30 minute mark of the game before anything started to change. Illinois finally began attacking the interior and the OSU defense yielded easily under the onslaught. Unfortunately for the Illini, they weren’t able to capitalize fast enough on the strategy change before Matta and company were able to make the appropriate defensive adjustments to put a stop to it.
This wasn’t exactly the kind of game I was hoping for from the Bucks today. After getting killed two months ago, I was hoping for a summary execution of the Illini. However, the Buckeyes did continue their late season winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament, which is huge for both tournament seeding and for confidence in the tournaments themselves. Hopefully this team prepares well over the next few days going into postseason play.
It has been 2 months since Illinois put on a devastating beat-down of the Buckeyes in Urbana-Champaign. Now the Buckeyes finally get a chance to avenge the loss.
Today’s game is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST on ESPN. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Urbana and Champaign, IL
Student Population: 40,616 total, 31,932 undergrad
School Type: Public – Land Grant
Stadium: Assembly Hall
Head Coach: John Groce
Experience: 1st year at UI @ U-C
Ohio State arrived in Urbana-Champaign for their first conference road game of the year and walked into a literal buzz-saw, losing by a final of 74-55. The Fighting Illini simply out-hustled and out-fundamentaled the Buckeyes in all phases of the game today, proving what many have suspected for a while – this OSU team still has a lot of work to do. While Brandon Paul did not go off for 43 this year, he did lead his team with 19 points to which he added 8 rebounds. He was joined in double digits by Nnanna Egwu (16), Tracy Abrams (13), and Joseph Bertrand (12) for the Illini, while OSU saw DeShaun Thomas’s 24 points to lead all scorers, and Aaron Craft’s (11).
The Buckeyes pulled their usual tricks in the early going of the first half. They came into the game completely lacking in intensity and allowed Illinois to jump out to a quick lead and some hot shooting. The Buck’s defense slowly improved to keep the game from running out of control early, but the offense continued to struggle with turnovers and poor shooting. Illinois eventually took advantage of the poor OSU offensive effort and blitzed out to a double digit lead. That lead would only be relinquished briefly before the end of the half, but Illinois reseized it and stuffed the traditional late first stanza OSU run.
The domination by the Fighting Illini continued into the second half. Through the first 4 minutes, the Illini blitzed out on an 11-2 run to open up a lead that would eventually climb as high as 25 near the middle of the second stanza. Eventually the Buckeyes decided that enough was enough and began to chip away at the lead. Not surprisingly, solid defense helped lead to good offensive choices down the stretch. Of course, Illinois made smart adjustments, and one critical wide open three, to kill the Buckeye’s promising run.
It was a matter of time before this team had a game like this. Sure they played well against Duke and Kansas at times, but they were eventually going to have an all-around terrible game against a solid team. For the better part of 30 minutes, Illinois did just about everything right, Ohio State did everything wrong, and the luck was clearly on the Orange side of the court. While the Buckeye’s short little energetic burst was a nice thing to see at the end of the game, it was far too little and much much too late to matter.
We’ve got an overlapping double header for you today!
The liveblog will start at 12:45 PM EST this afternoon. At 1 PM, the Army All-American Bowl will kick-off. There are three recruiting targets of interest in this one – WR Shelton Gibson, WR James Quick, LB Mike Mitchell. We’ll also be watching the following Ohio State commits throughout:
At 2:15 PM EST on the Big Ten Network, the Buckeyes Shooty Hoops team will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. This same liveblog will cover both events.
The Buckeyes are in for their first stern test of the conference season. Illinois started the season on a twelve game winning streak and looked to be much improved over last year. Let’s take a closer look.
|School:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (rolls off the tongue..)|
|Location:||Urbana and Champaign, IL|
|Student Population:||40,616 total, 31,932 undergrad|
|Division:||NCAA Division 1|
|Head Coach:||John Groce|
I’m pretty certain everyone was well entertained this week. Nothing like Illinois to cure what ails you!
4 Quarters of Offense.We scored with 4 minutes left in the first quarter. I feel like this isn’t quite “early” enough, nor “often” enough for your taste.
Defense…more, please. It was a pretty solid effort from the defense, and probably would have been better if the offense hadn’t coughed the ball up twice. But you really can’t complain with 170 total yards for the Illini.
XBrax360. 223 yards passing, 73 yards running, and 3 total touchdowns. Pretty solid video gamey numbers.
Electricity in the ‘Shoe. Maybe it was electric in the first quarter, but I doubt it lasted much beyond halftime. Cold weather plus a blowout does not electricity make. Not having been there, someone will have to let me know if they felt differently.
No more Illini Dancing on the Block O. I very much doubt there was any Illini dancing going on after this one.
Throw It Over Top. There were certainly some nice throws over the top. The wheel-route to Rod Smith was a thing of beauty.
Silver Bullets. They made steps in the right direction, and they would have likely held Illinois to only 6 points all game if it wasn’t for those meddling backups and their fumbles.
Hyde and Smith. Hyde got over 100 (137) and was the primary rusher – so you were correct there. Rod Smith’s 32 yards on 5 carries, however, not so much. In fact, Bri’onte Dunn’s 73 yards on 13 carries and a score was a much better outing toting the rock. Rod Smith’s 55 receiving yards (51 on the wheel-route) makes his day overall better.
Ohio State welcomes the Illinois Fighting Illini into Columbus today for the first of three games leading into the end of the season.