The Brandon Paul Game

January 12, 2012

B1G, B1G Hoops, Ill, Illinois Hoops

On Monday night, I got a call from a friend that he had two tickets for the Illini/OSU game at Assembly Hall I could use. I called a buddy of mine and we rode a bus down Tuesday morning. Turned out to be a good choice.

Tuesday night’s 79-74 win over the Buckeyes was the kind of win Illini fans have been clamoring for from a Bruce Weber lead team since the glory days of 2005. The Illni consistently played well against good teams, but never could seem to finish the job. There was the win two years ago against then #5 MSU, but Kalin Lucas was out injured. This game was different.

Illini fans will probably remember this as the Brandon Paul game, and for good reason. Paul played absolutely out of his mind. The junior guard had 43 points (28 in the second half) and shot 8-10 from three point range. He shot 11-15 overall, and 13-15 from the free throw line. He is the first NCAA player in 16 years to score 43 points on just 15 FGA. Paul also had 3 blocks, the last of which denied Jared Sullinger with under a minute to play. The performance of sophomore center Meyers Leonard can’t be discounted either. He scored 14 on his own, but more importantly played good defense on Sullinger throughout the game.

This was a season defining win, but the Illini will need the bench (0 pts v. OSU) to start playing some more meaningful minutes and guards Maniscalco and DJ Richardson to be fully healthy to continue playing anywhere near that level. The Illini are now 10th in RPI, and a number 3 seed in Jerry Palm’s latest bracketology. That’s a lofty goal, but one I believe this team is capable of reaching.

Especially if Paul keeps playing like this.

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About jml16

Covers the University of Illinois. Cubs, Packers, Bulls and Illini fan. Illinois Alum. Currently in enemy territory studying at Northwestern Law.

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4 Comments on “The Brandon Paul Game”

  1. Tony Says:

    For the offseason, we’re planning a “best game you’ve ever been to” series.

    Imagine this could be in the running.

    Reply

  2. Chris Says:

    Love the writers on this website, all of them. Great perspective. I think if Illinois goes 3-0 the next 3 games, something special will happen this season. Sets the stage for MSU at home. Even a road loss, Illinois will be fine. Just defend home court and steal a road game or two would be fantastic.

    I think this particular game was actually fun to watch. I know I”m biased but the refs called a great game letting them play. Sure both teams hacked each other here and there but the refs let both teams play. This is key in allowing the flow to develop. It was nice to see. OSU will still be a tough team they killed Duke and beat Florida. Tough team.

    Will be a fun ride now. I went to UNLV, Minnesota, and Northwestern. UNLV was just a bad game. The other 2 games they faced adversity and those games prove to be huge now.

    Let’s keep in mind Illinois can beat anyone in the country. They have beaten Gonzaga and OSU and played very tough with Missouri. In years past, Illinois loses to the weaker teams even when they beat a top team (see 2010). This year they still play with the top teams and win close games so far. Have some momentum now.

    Reply

  3. Tony Says:

    Stellar job at the stripe Purdue.

    Reply

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