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.
4 Quarters of Offense.Last week was better, but still not good enough. I want to score early and often.
Defense…more, please. The defense played a pretty good game last week. Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?
XBrax360. Illinois is awful. This should be a week for Braxton to put up some more big numbers.
Electricity in the ‘Shoe. No excuses. Kickoff is at 3:30 rather than noon so everyone should be fully awake and ready to go. This team is 9-0, and they just got a huge road win in Happy Valley last week. Let’s get it rocking in the ‘Shoe on Saturday.
No more Illini Dancing on the Block O. It absolutely made me suck to my stomach for them to do it an I wouldn’t have blamed te Buckeyes for going to town more than they did. Take it to them quickly an leave little doubt.
Throw It Over Top. The best way to get Devin Smith back in the saddle is go deep and make him go after it. Challenge the talent and speed of the Illini from the get go.
Silver Bullets. I tweeted last week close to the end of the game that it was the first time all season I felt like I could use the hashtag #SilverBullets. It’s a fact for many and I want to see more consistency. Buckeyes lead the B1G in YPG given up and they should continue.
Hyde and Smith. Braxton’s passing game will get better and will allow the two beasts in the back field to go to town. First game Brax won’t be the primary runner this week and Hyde and Smith will get 100 a piece.
10:15 PM – Make sure to stop back tomorrow for more live coverage from Indianapolis from WVaBuckeye and Gary Russell! A preview of tomorrow’s games will be up shortly to get you ready for all four excellent matchups.
10:00 PM – Gary Russell here from Indy finishing out today’s action. The second half started off with a flurry but Purdue really flexed its muscles in pulling away and beating Nebraska in the Husker’s first trip to the tourney by a score of 79-61. Today’s action reminded me of what the Big Ten is all about. While Minnesota’s overtime thriller was the best game of the day, the other games still showed us that the Big Ten has tremendous heart, determination, and class. Here’s to a great first day and an awesome second day.
9:00 PM – Gary Russell from Indy and Purdue is leading Nebraska 39-31 at halftime. Upset minded Nebraska kept it close early but they didn’t seem to have an answer for Purdue on the boards. The Boilermakers cashed in on their second chance points going up by 15 at one point. Bo Spencer hits a three and a lay up at the 2:03 mark shrinking the lead to 8. The teams trade baskets to close out the half putting us where we are at halftime.
7:40 PM – Northwestern’s dreams came to an end here in OT. A hot shooting Gopher squad made their free throws and some timely threes to post a 75-68 win. Shurna and Cobb combined for 45 of Northwestern’s points, while Andre Hollins lead Minnesota and all scorers with 25. Minnesota moves on to face TTUN tomorrow in game three of day 2.
Welcome to March.
Are you ready? Ready for tournament time?
The coaches are. Some of the coaches don’t usually care about the Big Ten Tournament – particularly Tom Izzo. The tournament rarely changes anything heading into the NCAA tournament, and the Regular Season Championship is considered more precious. But Tom Izzo seemingly changed his mind this season after being forced to share the regular season title with the Buckeyes and Wolverines,
We’re going to go win our championship back.
He’s ready for March. Are you?
You’d better be. This Big Ten Tournament promises to be one of the best yet. The field is deep with teams that want to win. Consider Northwestern, who has never been to the NCAA’s, and Minnesota, who would like to prove what they can do as a young team missing a key player. How about Purdue, with Robbie Hummel’s last go around. And that’s not even including Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan who would all love to be able to hold the tournament championship over their co-regular season title holders.
Just to name a few.
JoeD, WVaBuckeye, Dave, and I put our heads together and shared some of our thoughts on the Thursday matchups to get you ready for the first day of action.