Freshmen Lead Buckeyes in Thriller Over Illini

By Chris Lauderback on January 22, 2011 at 2:06p
27 and 16 never looked so easy

In a game of runs, Ohio State saved their best for last answering a 12-4 Illini run creating a 50-42 deficit with 12:53 to play with a 22-6 blitz of their own to take a 64-56 lead with 4:22 left before holding on for a 73-68 victory this afternoon against Illinois in Assembly Hall.

Freshman Jared Sullinger locked up another B1G Frosh of the Week award with a monster 27 point, 16 rebound effort including a clutch 13/15 from the stripe (10/11 2nd half). Fellow froshies Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas also shouldered much of the load as upperclassmen David Lighty (3/14 FG) and William Buford (2/8 FG) combined for just 16 points on 5/22 from the floor. Buford was nursing a bum ankle.

Thomas was critical during the game changing 22-6 run splashing a pair of triples before hitting a layup off a nifty spin move on the low block giving him eight points.

Craft finished with just five points on 1/5 shooting but dished out four assists while turning it over just once in 31 minutes. His biggest contribution came at the defensive end however as he locked down Demetri McCamey holding him to a season low five points on 2/11 shooting with four turnovers.

Jon Diebler picked up Lighty and Buford's scoring slack with 15 gritty points including a big three giving OSU a 53-50 lead they would not relinquish and a smooth 15 foot floater on the baseline stretching the Buckeye lead to 62-56 with 4:53 to play.

After a DJ Richardson miss, Sullinger spun around Mike Tisdale in the lane forcing a foul and promptly buried two free throws capping the 22-6 run to put OSU on top 64-56 with 4:22 left. The Illini responded with an and-1 from Mike Tisdale thanks to a phantom foul on Craft and after a Lighty airball, Jereme Richmond added a layup cutting the lead to 64-61 with 3:38 left.

Once again, the Buckeyes leaned on Sullinger who earned another trip to the line with a strong post move and converted both charity tosses making it 66-61. After a missed triple try from Richardson, Diebler was fouled and drained both attempts giving OSU what looked like a comfortable 68-61 cushion with 2:13 remaining in regulation.

Unfortunately, a zebra channeled his inner Helen Keller two possessions later with Craft called for a horrible blocking foul on McCamey as he made just his 2nd field goal of the day from the left block. McCamey would miss the and-1 opportunity but Tisdale was hacked on a putback attempt and hit both free throws to make it 68-65 with 53 ticks to go.

As he'd done all afternoon, Sullinger answered the call hitting 1/2 free throws providing a four point lead with :35 to go but Tisdale struck again with a triple from just to the right of the top of the circle closing the gap to 69-68 with :19 to play. Forced to foul, the Illini sent Craft to the line and as he's done all year, he was clutch draining both to make it 71-68 good guys with :16 remaining.

With a chance to tie, Illinois couldn't even get off a shot as Diebler picked up a steal in the lane. The ball deflected to Sullinger who immediately called for a timeout. On the ensuing inbound, Buford was quickly fouled and put the game away with two free throws - his first points of the 2nd half and first since a triple with 5:27 left in the 1st half to provide the final margin.

Ohio State improved to 20-0 overall and 7-0 in the Big Ten, though it looked like that might not be the case through the first 28 minutes. A wild first half saw the teams trade runs of 11-2 by OSU, 12-3 by Illinois and 10-2 for OSU before the Illini closed the half on an 8-0 run to take a 34-33 lead at intermission.

Matta's bunch shot just 39% in the opening 20 minutes with Buford, Diebler, Lighty and Craft combining for 7/21 FG while allowing Illinois to shoot 48%, assisting on 10 of 15 field goals, as the Buckeyes continuously either lost their man on switches leading to backdoor layups or else switched creating big size mismatches in the paint.

The struggles continued to start the 2nd half as Illinois opened on a 12-4 run with OSU shooting just 3/9 with two turnovers giving the Illini the 50-42 lead setting up the Buckeye rally.

For the game, Ohio State shot just 39.6% from the floor but 47% from distance (7/15) and 24/27 from the line (89%) bailed out the offense. At the other end, the Buckeyes held Illinois to 43% shooting overall and 24% from beyond the arc (4/17). The aggressors from Columbus attempted 17 more free throws than Illinois, outscoring them 24-8. The Buckeyes lost the glass 32-29 but committed just seven turnovers with only two in the 2nd half and both of those came in the opening 90 seconds.

Jereme Richmond led Illinois with 18 points and Tisdale added 15.

The Buckeyes can't afford to celebrate too long as they put their undefeated mark on the line next at 9pm next Tuesday night in the Schott against #13 Purdue.


Comments Show All Comments

Jason Priestas's picture

The streak of first posts, Matta's streak of 20-win seasons, or the 20-straight wins? So many streaks to track.

Reens's picture

Hopefully only two of those continue because the other 1 is really annoying.

Jason Priestas's picture

Agree. One of the many gifts /. has given the world (though I'm sure it would have started somewhere else if Slashdot never came to be).

Slashdot's other gift to the world? The phrase "Natalie Portman, naked and petrified".

The_Lurker's picture

Nicely done by the Buckeyes, surviving that garbage call on Craft late that turned what should have been a 7-point lead plus possession into a 3-point game.

Say what you want about the schedule so far, but that's a tough road win against a good team, with two veterans - Buford and Lighty - playing possibly their worst games of the season. I've never seen Lighty airball two such open looks before. Buford at least had somewhat of an excuse, quietly nursing an ankle injury. Thomas provided a nice spark off the bench.

ColdBuckeye's picture

Fun game to watch! Big game on Tuesday with Purdue stoppin by. Go Bucks!

poguemahone's picture

In a game of runs

This game gave me the runs


yrro's picture

Very glad to escape with the win. Illinois is a tough matchup for us, as one of the few teams who can come in and be actively bigger than Sully. He had trouble getting clean shots all day. Richmond was a beast - we just didn't have the size to guard anyone once they got near the paint.

Excellent job by Craft completely neutralizing McCamey. I bet ET was watching that with a smile on his face - there always seemed to be a bit of bad blood between those two, for all that the announcers always talk about them as "old friends." Just because you played for the same high school doesn't mean you were friends.

Jason Priestas's picture

I get what you're saying and I'm sure ET was happy the Bucks prevailed, but McCamey and Turner are genuinely friends. ET has given him a couple of shoutouts on Twitter recently.

ERIC OSU's picture ;jason vindicated... Incase anyone remembers the game against florida earlier in the year; in tonights south Carolina vs UK telecast jimmy dykes is still talking about sullinger's butt lol

Seth4Bucks's picture

And Diebler showed up against a tough opponent as well. With Buford and Lighty's off games, we needed him to come through and he did. Plus that steal at the end clinched the win for us.

Sofa Kingdom's picture

All three assholes on eSECpn Gameday picked Illini. Great win for this team.

TLB's picture

I'll ask again...why does anyone watch eSECpn except for live games?  

Don't forget to add Seth Davis to the hate list.  He still thinks tOSU should be behind Kansas and Pitt.

ERIC OSU's picture

Because not all of us completely avoid a channel with the rationale that an entire network is against us. Believe me, it feels so much better to watch some buffoon analyst slight the buckeyes, let it fire you up + watch the boys prove them wrong, just to watch the same analyst slobber all over them later on in the night.

JakeBuckeye's picture


Their college football coverage strongly favors the SEC, but they still aren't anti-Ohio State. I have no issues with any other of their coverage.

JakeBuckeye's picture

"I'll ask again...why does anyone watch eSECpn except for live games?"

Because of awesome shows like PTI, Around the Horn, and Outside the Lines.

Sportscenter is even pretty good strictly from a sporting news standpoint.

"Don't forget to add Seth Davis to the hate list.  He still thinks tOSU should be behind Kansas and Pitt."

Sorry, but this isn't that bad. We lack quality wins and have had a lot of close games. Now that Kansas lost though he doesn't have much of a case. ESPN's college basketball and pro football coverage are pretty good. Just because their college football coverage is a joke doesn't mean that network sucks completely. Also just because at times analysts pick us to lose doesn't mean they hate us or that they suck at their jobs.




TLB's picture

PTI, around the horn and outside the lines?  Please


all they are concerned with is promoting their product.


Prepare yourself for a big taste of Longhorn.

JakeBuckeye's picture

That's funny, because the people who talk on Around the Horn generally do not work for ESPN.

Outside the Lines also did a piece on oversigning recently, exposing SEC coaches. And PTI is just entertaining. Wilbon is a big Big Ten guy too.

Not to mention that all three of those shows don't talk about college football as their primary topic.

And don't give me your stupid "please". That's the same "please" you gave the person who disagreed with you that Taylor Martinez is not better than Denard Robinson and Terrelle Pryor. I watch shows for my enjoyment, so if I want to watch ESPN outside of live games because of those shows, I will.

thePhilipJFry's picture

I'm with you tlb, ESPN is for live game action only in my house (Some of the 30 for 30's were good so I'll make an exception when they do Bartman and the '86 Masters).

JakeBuckeye's picture

I even forgot about mentioning 30 for 30. All of those were in a word, awesome.

southernbuckeye's picture

I agree. It should read, "Diebler steal seals victory after BS foul call!"

Brutus's picture

Anyone else think Craft looks a little like Shia Labeouf? I can't stand Shia Labeouf but I'm starting to be a little gay for Craft. Also, I've long thought Diebler is a dead ringer for Johnny Weeks from The Wire. If you like the show, you know who I'm talking about. The actor's name is Leo Fitzpatrick.

This is extent of what I have to contribute to this discussion. I will resume my silence now.

Sean N's picture

While I'm a great admirer of The Wire, to me Mr. Fitzpatrick will always be,first and foremost, Telly from the timeless family Classic Kids.

Jason Priestas's picture

Kids damaged me for life, but it has nothing on Gummo.

TLB's picture

Mackey Arena sure is loud.

TLB's picture

ugh.  Vital just said he would be here for Tuesday's game

Jason Priestas's picture


TLB's picture

dipsy do dunkaroo

slam jam bam



that's awesome baby

freeze it



buckeye33's picture

At 68-61 with 1:39 to play (30 seconds still on the shot clock, Illini 10+ fouls), Lighty takes a tough layup.  We run some clock, take a 2 shot foul, or get it inside to Sully, & this game is history. But it was still a great win !  Please lay off Thomas....he's a scorer, he looks to shoot first  (never met a shot he didn't like) but he's instant offense. His numbers next year will be off the chart, & we certainly have the nucleus for another great team.

Nick's picture

Imagine Sully staying. Having a legit center coming in next year with Sully at PF would be so fun to watch with Craft, Thomas, maybe Buford or some of the other younger guys out there. Would be really dangerous.

Corey Carpenter's picture

Of the 2 games CBS has broadcast for the Buckeyes, Sullinger has a combined 57 points and 35 rebounds...can't wait for the tourney.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

The steal and timeoit by Sully was the best play of the season so far. Very intelligent play knowing that the possession arrow favored Illinois. And Craft got newer on both of those blocking calls. Can't get your feet set any better than that. And please. Gus Johnson needs to be fired. The dude is garbage. Him and Aaron Collins (Big Ten football) are HORRIBLE! Such that Clark Kellogg went to the College Game Day show on ESPN. He was the best college basketball in-game announcer EVER!

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

buckeyejla's picture

"With a chance to tie, Illinois couldn't even get off a shot as Diebler picked up a steal in the lane and outletted to Buford who was immediately fouled. Buford put the game away with two free throws - his first points of the 2nd half and first since a triple with 5:27 left in the 1st half to provide the final margin." I'd understand if you watched the last minutes w/your hands clamped over your eyes (it was that kind of game)--but didn't you miss something here? Diebler picked up a steal that was recovered by Sully, who immediately called time-out. The foul to Buford came after the TO and in-bound. And after a lot of whining by Weber.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Wow. Thanks for pointing that out. The pace at the end caused my handwriting to a bit worse than usual and with no DVR, I inadvertently omitted the Sully timeout when trying to recap it all. Fixed. Thanks again!