Buckeye Basketball Breakdown: Hot Hands

Written January 13th, 2012 by Eric

William Buford defines hot-and-cold shooting.

Many of you probably could have guessed, had you know that a Basketball Breakdown was pending, that this would be the topic of choice for this week. For those that couldn’t, you probably didn’t see the incredible 43 point display that Illinois guard Brandon Paul put on the Buckeyes on Tuesday night. You don’t necessarily want to watch the highlights – it’s pretty gory.

Let me start out from the get-go by saying that scoring 40+ points in a game is an incredible feat. Much applause to Mr. Paul for pulling it off, particularly against the #5 team in the country (at the time). There’s a reason the Buckeyes are ranked so high, and solid defense is one of them. Scoring that many points against a sound defensive team makes it just all the more impressive.

But how can it happen? How can such a sound defensive team allow a player to score so many points? I submit that this had less to do with poor play from the Buckeyes (though that definitely contributed) than it did with some excellent planning and fantastic play on Illinois’ side of the ball. I definitely don’t want to see anyone take anything away from Brandon by saying that it was entirely Ohio State’s fault. He (and his team) had a lot to do with it.

Let’s start by asking how you can tell if a player a hot (or cold) night.  Obviously when you’re watching a game you can see it in the player’s and team’s reactions to him hitting (or missing) a lot of shots.  Statistically, it’s a little more difficult.  You have to look at the player’s averages – preferably over a season, but career can work too – and look at how statistically ridiculous a particular night of shooting is.

Let’s consider William Buford first.  Buford has been accused of having some pretty cold nights and not producing particularly well.  Looking at his averages, Buford is scoring a little more than 15 points per outing this year.  If you consider that he plays on a team with two other lights-out scorers (Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas), and you consider that a good team typically has one guy who averages more than 15 per night, then it’s suggestive that he’s not as cold as people think.
Read More

Brandon Paul Carries Illinois to Victory in 79-74 Thriller

Written January 10th, 2012 by Joe Dexter

Ladies and Gents....Brandon Paul.

It was the Brandon Paul Show in Urbana-Champaign on Tuesday night. Shot after bone crushing shot. Open Look, double teamed — it didn’t matter. 43 Points later, the Fighting Illini flashed their talent and fought down to the wire, as they were the better team when the game mattered. After dominating the second half, the Orange and Blue earned their first win in the last six tries with a 79-74 upset of #5 Ohio State.

Tonight was a battle of mismatches, pinpoint three point shooting, and runs throughout.

It started with five turnovers early for the Illini, as Ohio State took a 10-4 lead off one of those early giveaways on an Aaron Craft layup. Defensively, it looked like the Buckeyes had the advantage in the paint. Starting 4 guards, Illinois went straight to the block early to Meyers Leonard early and he impressed. After scoring four straight points, including a dunk in the low post to make the ballgame a two point game, he began to gas.

Sullinger took advantage of that midway through the first with a mid-range jumper to give the Buckeyes a three point lead. He then followed it up with a beautiful three point shot from the wing off an assist from Aaron Craft to make it 23-15.

After Sullinger hit the bench just a few moments later, Leonard started to regain his feet from under him. As the home crowd was introduced to the Brandon Paul show.
Read More

Ohio State defeats tough Illinois 73-68

Written January 22nd, 2011 by Eric

It was a scrappy affair the whole day, but David Lighty's Buckeyes managed to prevail

The Buckeyes and Illini collided in Urbana-Champaign in one of the toughest matchups the Buckeyes had faced all season.  The Buckeyes demonstrated that they may be the real deal, coming back from eight down in the second half to beat the Illini 73-68 away from the friendly confines of Value City Arena.  The Bucks rode Jared Sullinger’s 27 points and 16 rebounds to the tough fought win, his ninth double double for the season.

Illinois started out of the gate fast and strong.  The Illini began with a tough man defense and did not commit to the double team of Sullinger except when Jared possessed the ball below the basket.  The strategy allowed the Illini to be aggressive in all other phases of defense and open up a quick lead by forcing turnovers.  The Bucks didn’t stay down long, though, finding second chance points in the paint and a long three from Diebler to regain the lead.

The defense on the other end of the court was a tough nut for the Illini to crack.  Several times the Buckeyes forced turnovers after forcing Illinois to run 30 seconds off the shot clock.  Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time until Illinois figured out how to work around the OSU help defense.  With some clever passing, the Illini were able to find open looks from outside.  Worse yet, they managed to get the ball down low to Jereme Richmond who nearly made it to double digits while the Buckeyes struggled to figure out how to defend him.
Read More