House of Paign

By Chris Lauderback on January 10, 2012 at 11:08p
Hoist - a decent Phish albumBrandon Paul and his 43 points are hoisted by Illini fans

Looking for a meaningful conference road win to back up the laugher at Iowa on Saturday, the Buckeyes ran into a Brandon Paul buzzsaw tonight in Champaign. 

The 28% shooter from distance and 12 points per game scorer scorched the Buckeyes for 43 points on 11/15 shooting including a blistering 8/10 from downtown as the Illini took care of the Buckeyes 79-74 tonight in the other Assembly Hall. The loss snapped Ohio State's 57 game winning streak versus unranked teams. 

Paul absolutely shredded the Buckeye defense all night but saved his best for last scoring 28 points in the 2nd half including the final 15 for the Illini as he singlehandedly outscored OSU 15-8 over the final three minutes to secure the win. 

After Deshaun Thomas gave OSU a 66-64 lead putting back a William Buford miss, Paul hit a pair of free throws then splashed his 7th triple of the night in transition off a Buford turnover giving Illinois the lead for good at 69-66 with 2:02 left. Buford's turnover keyed the fast break and though Sam Thompson tried to trail Paul, a very close to a moving screen from Meyers Leonard gave him all the space he needed to drop the dagger from the corner. 

Jared Sullinger would answer with a bucket cutting the lead to one but Paul answered with a pair of free throws upping the margin to three at 71-68. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the zebras missed a travel as Paul shuffled his feet prior to being fouled on the dribble drive. 

Aaron Craft would find Thomas slashing to the rim again cutting the lead to a point at 71-70 but then Paul dialed up another dagger. With the shot clock at four, Paul took an inbounds feed off a screen and bottomed another trey from the left corner making it 74-70 Illinois with just :43 remaining. Tip your cap on that one (above all the others). Hell of shot. 

Sully answered cutting the lead to 74-72 but Paul again hit two free throws for a 76-72 lead before Craft committed yet another late game turnover. Forced to foul, Paul again found himself at the line and hit both making it 78-72 Illini with :11 remaining. Game over. 

Craft would hit a meaningless and uncontested layup before Paul hit two more free throws to round out the scoring. 

Though it was likely there was little anything could be done to slow Paul on this night, he did have an incredible amount of wide open looks. Poor switching and an overall inability to stick with him by Craft and Smith, above all others combined with zero intent by Matta to employ a double team dropped Ohio State to 15-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play. 

Paul's 43 points were the 3rd most in Illini history and the 4th most scored by a player against Ohio State.  

Thomas led Ohio State with 23 points on 8/12 from the floor with six boards and Sullinger added 21 points (9/16) five boards and three steals. 

It wasn't all roses for Sully however as Leonard more than held his own with 14 points (7/12) and five boards and was often involved in screens freeing up Paul for great looks. 

Buford finished with 15 points on 7/18 with four turnovers, none more costly than his lost handle on the ill-fated dribble drive that sprung Paul for what was in effect the game winning triple. 

It looked like Buford might have a shot at being hero instead of one of the goats after his own 5-0 run off a pretty 17 foot jumper and a three from the corner pocket helped OSU turn a 59-61 deficit into a 64-61 lead with 6:17 to play. Once again, however, the loose handles of Buford and Craft did the Buckeyes in down the stretch, in addition of course to Paul's absolutely outstanding shooting. 

Behind Paul's hot hand, Illinois shot 60% for the game (27/45) and 61% from distance (11/18) while the Buckeyes shot a respectable 47% overall but just 33% from deep (5/15). 

A 10 point edge in points off turnovers (26-16) and a 15-6 advantage in 2nd chance points thanks to a 15-5 bulge in offensive boards helped the Buckeyes stay in the game. 

After seeing plenty of reserves the last few outings - though some of that was due to foul trouble and lopsided scores - only three subs saw action tonight for a grand total of 26 minutes. Thompson saw 18 of those minutes but scored zero points (0/2 FG) as he focused on chasing Paul. JD Weatherspoon was ineffective in six minutes going 0/2 from the floor with two boards and two turnovers. Evan Ravenel played two minutes going 0/1 without a rebound. 

Interestingly, Jordan Sibert and his 29% shooting percentage (27% from deep) never left the pine. 

With no reserves earning stripes while Buford and Craft struggle to consistently fill their expanded roles, things are looking a little shaky in Buckeyeland. Sure, this team is going to win it's fair share of games and be a high seed but unless a consistent 3rd scorer (WB) can be counted on and a 4th sometimes-scorer emerges, this team will be lucky to escape the Sweet 16. The more time goes by, the more I feel the grade issues that kept LaQuinton Ross from getting November practice time might be a silent killer for this team. 

That thought and the fact even the players (Craft tonight) admit they don't see a consistent effort in practice and games is a bit sickening. 

Whatever. It's late and I'm getting grumpy writing about what went down tonight. In fact, this seems like the right time to remind everyone that we're looking for your donations to help fund the hiring of a beat writer. There's lots of questions we'd like to ask Thad and the players tonight but unfortunately, we're couchside in Columbus. 

Next up for the Buckeyes, a Sunday rematch with the Fighting Creans of Indiana at 4:30 in the Schott. CBS has your TV coverage. 



Comments Show All Comments

Yamosu's picture

Buford was 7/18 I believe, not 7/8

Chris Lauderback's picture

Yeah, thanks. Was just fixing that. Seems like I frequently forget the 1 after the /. Derp on my part. Buford only goes 7/8 in pregame layup line. 

Baroclinicity's picture

If practice is lacking, Matta needs to crack the whip.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

buckeyenut10's picture

Any chance LaQuinton Ross gives Matta enough reason to give him a shot as our 5th opening man? The kid has talent at shooting thees and dear god are we desperate. Our most consistant three guy right now is Sullinger.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

I was at the game tonight.  Brandon Paul was just ridiculous. 

Also, it cannot be said enough that we miss Jon Diebler and David Lighty immensely.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

Poison nuts's picture

Obviously the Buckeyes have issues on the road. I hope they can get this garbage sorted out quickly...the B1G is looking pretty scary this year and this inconsistency is getting old really fast.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Brutus's picture

I didn't feel that bad last year after the road losses to Purdue and Wisconsin. Tough venues, good teams, and other worldly play from Moore and Taylor. I sort of feel the same about this loss but I'm just not sure how good Illinois is yet. If they end up top four in the B1G, then this loss looks less bad to me. You'd think we could have adjusted the game plan a little to contain Paul, but there really was no stopping him. Kind of like Diebler last year at PSU. What's frustrating is that while opposing players seem to find a way to take over games and single handedly beat us (add the Freshman from Kentucky last year to the list), we can't ever seem to find an answer. I think that's what's keeping this team from being elite right now. I like that we have several guys who can score, but I don't think we have anyone who can consistently threaten to go for 30+ and take over a game.

It's a long way to March. If we're losing games like this in February, then i start to worry. Bring on IU. Watching Crean implode would cleanse the soul.

Bobcat04's picture

So literally OSU has lost every game on the road this season against teams with a pulse.  Lucky it's basketball so the season is far from over, but I'm getting tired of saying that.  Toughness and the ability to dig down and make plays down the stretch is the difference between this year's team and last year's.  On paper, this team does have more talent than any other in the B1G, but this is an exercise in how chemisty and response to adversity can be very elusive.  

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

It's Jordan Taylor all over again.-_-

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

baddogmaine's picture

We're seeing some tends that don't seem to be fixable. Buford once again shot poorly, and by shooting often he took away possessions for the Buckeyes. Hate to say it but his offense is like Thomas' was last year - shot hogging with too little to show for it. Buford and Craft both turn it over at the end of a tight game (why did Craft dribble into the corner for his? what good could come out of being there so late in a game the team was trailing?) And the team has no way to protect Sullinger when the opponent has a good big. Of course last year's team was a different squad but Harrelson controlled Sully in the KY game. Sully got 21 but Harrelson schooled him. This year Zeller held his own at Indiana, and Leonard neutralized Sullinger last night. Without a real outside threat teams are collapsing on us inside on defense. The real problem is that our defense isn't good enough. Not nearly good enough. Nothing could have prevented Paul's last 3 with 4 seconds on the shot clock, but before that he was running away from the defense and no one was helping. And Sullinger had too little help in defending Leonard.

Kansas was because we didn't have Sullinger. Indiana was because of the zebras. Last night was because it wasn't our night. Sorry. We lost last night to a team missing its point guard. Picture us without Craft - that is who we lost to. We are a good team but not a great team and to win against good teams we need everything to work right for us. By imnproving in the areas where we are weak we can improve our margin of error, but as of now - with a starter who is not giving us what we need (Buford) and a bench not ready for prime time - we seem to be no better than third in the Big Ten (MSU, IN ahead of us, maybe IL too). Were I bracketting now I give us a 4 seed, and I see no more than three wins in the Dance, and depending on our 4-5 matchup possibly not making it out of the first weekend. We can change this - and watch the Buckeyes decimate Indiana this weekend! - but as of now this last year of the Sullinger era might be the start of a drop off from the success OSU basketball has recently enjoyed.

buckeye20's picture

OK, let's try to be positive for a second.  We are in a mid season funk.  I'm glad it is happening now...rather than later.  I have to believe that this group will pull it together and peak at the right time.  Buford has a little searching to do to decide how he wants to go out.  I would agree, we will go as far as Buford takes us.

I think Matta needs to think about a few things as well.  It seems like he needs to be a little more hands-on in game situations rather than letting them play.

nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

..." I would agree, we will go as far as Buford takes us."

Yup...and at this point...we are in trou-ble...Willie B needs to check himself.

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

SensibleBuckeye's picture

Last year the Big East was the best basketball conference and the battle tested UConn Huskies were 32-9 on their way to a National Championship.  Look for OSU to lose a few more games but in the long run it doesn't have to mean that's a bad thing.

Orlando Buckeye's picture

Does it make you feel good or bad that every team that beats us rushes the floor?

LouGroza's picture

Buford led the team in turnovers and again another night of less than 50% shooting. The substitutions by Matta up by seven in the first half allowed Illinois to immediately erase that margin. Weatherspoon complained about playing time and is getting it but provides nothing other than looking for the spectacular dunk. Some things seem so obvious from the outside looking in. Are they?

Chris Lauderback's picture

Funny you say that. I was just saying on Twitter during the Iowa game that JD's range is Dunk and it's amazing how little production he seems to provide despite freakish athleticism.

Also, totally agree about Matta helping Illy get back in the game early by pulling key starters at the same time. Since he's never had practice in the pat, I think Matta struggles with how to effectively deploy his subs. That and wild inconsistency from all his subs doesn't help.

Breakawayspeed's picture

Brandon Paul had a game for the ages or we win easily.  That kid was tossing it in from everywhere and that last three from somewhere beyond the Illionis bench with Craft in his shirt, was ri-fuckin-diculous! You just can't do much about a guy going off like that.  It's a pity but, we ran into a buzzsaw. 

I saw mistakes yes, but the effort was there.  Time to get battle tested.  Onward! ....through the fog.   

Chris Lauderback's picture

Paul was definitely covered on the three you mention but his career night was aided by many wide open looks from my vantage point. I definitely think OSU helped his cause with lackluster effort. Craft and Sully both mentioned in the postgame how frustrated they are with the team's overall lack of effort / intensity in practices and games. No consistency from this group.

Another thing that's killing them is how they respond to adversity especially at the end of each half. It's become a common occurrence and that won't play in March.

TLB's picture

How come he can make the wide open looks, but Buford rarely does?  And Craft seemed to be looking for the 3 more than usual, of course, they didn't go either.

argyle182021's picture

I would even argue that Paul normally doesn't hit his open looks.  I think I remember the announcers saying that in the previous four games he was 7-22 (31%) from behind the arc.  That's not to say the defensive pressure on him couldn't have been better.  He also hit 13-15 from the charity stripe.  Coming into the game he didn't even average 70% from the line.  It was his night.

There definitely needs to be better effort if they want to have a deep run.  But it all depends on peaking in March.  Just ask Connecticut.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Everyone needs to chill for four reasons:

1. OSU lost three winnable games on nights when they didn't play well. This team relies on young players and players who are in new roles. I expect this wil change by March.

2. None of the players except Buford is a finished product. Even Sullinger is learning to play the pick and pop better.

3. Diebler and Lighty were 4-5 year players. Matta knew what he could expect from them every game. He'll learn more about these guys now (in fact I think we learned Jordan Sibert won't play if he can't shoot a respectable percentage).

4. The Big Ten is better. That will make OSU better come tournament time.

And one other thing...speculating about OSU's performance then based on their play now is pointless. It will be a different team and match-ups matter a lot.

nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

If Budford is a finished player at this point I sure hope we bought we extended warranty...

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

baddogmaine's picture

1. OSU lost three winnable games on nights when they didn't play well. This team relies on young players and players who are in new roles. I expect this wil change by March.

What will change? that the team will no longer rely on young players? If so we are in trouble, because Thomas' defense is not good enough, Smith's offense is not god enough, and foul trouble has been more of a problem this year than last. If you mean that young players will become better we'll see. So far most seem so unfinished it's overly optimistic to expect great improvement in two months.

2. None of the players except Buford is a finished product. Even Sullinger is learning to play the pick and pop better.

Yes? And? KY loses most of its team each year and reloads because its new recruits are almost pro-ready from the day they arrive on campus. OSU has good players but few of the newcomers, if any, are displaying the upside of KY's crop. Lighty, who we miss tremendously, went undrafted. Players will get as good as they can get, it's not clear to me that this roster can compete at the highest collegiate level. We might not have all the pieces of the complete puzzle. And a piece we have been counting on, Buford, is not as finished as we ned him to be.

3. Diebler and Lighty were 4-5 year players. Matta knew what he could expect from them every game. He'll learn more about these guys now (in fact I think we learned Jordan Sibert won't play if he can't shoot a respectable percentage).

Matta will learn what the newcomers can do, that does not mean that he will like what he learns. The question isn't really what Motta will do come March, the question is what will be avilable to Motta come March. I don't see March offering anything significantly better than we have now, as long as team chemistry is not the best and (apparently) kids are not killing themselves in practice.

4. The Big Ten is better. That will make OSU better come tournament time.

No, come tournament time we will find out how well OSU is likely to do against good teams from other conferences. Which could be not very well at all.


The reality is that we don't know what OSU will be like in March. Some teams can say now that they *will* be good in March. We thought that included us, we are now seeing that it might or might not. Instead, we are with a lot of other teams in hoping what happened to UConn last year hits us this year. Some things to think about:

1. Who is our Kemba Walker? the guy who can carry the team by himself and who never has an off night. Craft is not a scorer, Sullinger needs to be fed the ball. Buford has regressed.

2. Is Thomas' defense good enough? Heck, is the team defense good enough?

3. Do we have enough size inside? The drop off from Sully, both in size and ability, is pretty steep.

4. Do we have enough outside game to keep teams from smothering Sully? Questions 3 and 4 point out that last year we didn't need a second inside presence because we were deadly from outside; and we didn't need a bench because our starting five was as good as any in America. This year we have more bodies Motta trusts to a degree, but they are not the right bodies. We can not put a whole team on the floor at any time, and we don't even have a player as good as Dallas Lauderdale to use as a sub.

5. What will motivate Buford? Can we win with him playing in big games the way he has been? If he continues to struggle offensively do we have a replacement?

U Conn did struggle some early, but they had the pieces to get better. Time will tell, but based on what we've seen we're not this year's Huskies.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Last year it seemed like the team was hungry.  When they needed to, they would stomp the gas and let other teams have it.  I know its a different team and new personnel but I had really hoped that some of the killer instinct would spill over into this season.  Right now, i just dont see it. 

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Not really impressed with this team at this point.  They seem to be getting worse as most expected them to improve.  Don't really see us winning the conference with the way we are playing.  Just goes to show that both on the grid-iron and hardwood, pre-season rankings are pure garbage.

"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

baddogmaine's picture

Both rankings were garbage. The football team had a new QB, a shakey o-line, no receivers for the first 5 (then 10) games, an uncertain defense, and someone who had never been an HC before expected to make that competitive.

The basketball team was ranked on having a player of the year center, a dynamic point guard, and a senior who had played with good players and scored a lot of points his first three years. Otherwise, those who saw greatness for this team just assumed that we would replace Diebler and Lighty with new players who would provide just as much, and new members would be the next big things. In my opinion that we are as good as we are is because Thomas is unexpectedly as good as he is - even allowing for his indifferent defense. But Smith wasn't even a role player last year, and even if he has progressed from then till now he likely still would not get much time on last year's team. Normally you take a transfer because the guy can do something big for you, but Revenel was a role player at BC, why expect more at OSU? Even if Buford were playing as well as we think he should who are the other two on the floor? Who are the subs? And why do you rank a team highly if you don't KNOW the answers to those questions?

The men's basketball team may still turn out to be really good, but based on the preseason roster that could not be counted on. Good enoigh to compete in the B1G maybe, but elite? not based on the names on the roster.

Larryp713's picture

Last year's team was truly special. Their ability to hit threes with ridiculous accuracy really spread other teams and opened things for Sully. And they seemed to be better at filling in the lane and cutting of driving point guards. I still like this team, but Sully needs some help. I would like to see Thompson get more minutes, and we really need some of the other young studs to contribute.



Doc's picture

I just watched the game on dvr. It did look like they called it quits with about 2 minutes left. Willy B needs to stop shooting the three ball and Thomas needs to play away from the basket IMO. I hope they get their act together before IU steals two from them.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

zbd's picture

I see 3 problems with this team.

1. no leadership like we had with Lighty

2. Buford appears to have no basketball IQ, lose with Freshmen not seniors

3. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.