Trailing 66-64 with 2:40 remaining, Brandon Paul outscored the Ohio State Buckeyes 15-8 down the stretch, accounting for all of Illinois' points while hitting 2-of-2 three-pointers and 9-of-10 free throws. Paul also had a career-high four blocks, including a key one late on Jared Sullinger with under a minute remaining.
The Illini turned in the best shooting performance of the season against mighty Ohio State, connecting on a season-best 27-of-45 (60 percent) from the field. The previous best mark against the Buckeyes was 58.3 percent (28-of-48) by Kansas.
Paul was incredibly efficient tonight, becoming the 1st college basketball player in the last 15 years to score 43+ on 15 or fewer field goal attempts. It’s the third most single game points by an Illini in program history.
What a special performance. There is just so much good to write here, in the second half alone, but I’ll try to keep it from becoming 600 words.
Paul was 11-15 from the floor, 8-10 from three (tying Dee Brown school record) and 13-15 from the line. And 8 rebounds and four blocks. In other words a PERFECT GAME! His previous career high was 23.
The Illini overcame their largest deficit of the season of 11 points (45-34), earned its first victory over a top-five opponent since knocking off #5 Michigan State on Feb. 6, 2010 (The ESPN College Gameday event). They also snapped a five-game losing streak against OSU (2-10 in the previous twelve), are now 3-2 in home games versus top-five teams and 4-8 all-time against top-five opponents under head coach Bruce Weber.
The Buckeyes are now 15-3 just like Illinois, and 3-2 in conference; behind the 4-1 Illini. Meyers Leonard had 14 and 4 for Illinois, but was a bit out-played by his Buckeyes counterpart Jared Sullinger who 21 and 5 on 9-16 shooting.
Ohio State fell to 2-3 on the road.
Paul’s 43 points also equaled the second-highest point total in the NCAA this season, behind only Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who scored 44 points vs. Bradley on Jan. 7. Dave Downey’s 53 on 2/16/63 and Andy Kaufmann’s 46 on 12/3/90 are the only two Illini to ever score more than Paul in a game
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