Illinois Postgame Notes vs. Ohio State
No. 11/14 Illinois 74, No. 8/8 Ohio State 55
1. Today’s Big Ten home opener was the Illini’s first home sellout of the season and the sixth game of the season played in front of a sellout crowd. The last time the Illini sold out Assembly Hall was on Jan. 22, 2012, against Wisconsin.
2. Today’s 19-point win over No. 8 Ohio State marked the largest margin of victory over a top-10 opponent in close to 50 years, dating back to Dec. 4, 1964, when the Illini defeated No. 2 UCLA, 110-83. The last time Illinois defeated a top-10 Big Ten opponent by a larger margin was back on Feb. 20, 1954, when Illinois defeated No. 10 Iowa, 74-51.
3. The Illini claimed their second double-digit victory over a top-10 team this season, after taking down then-No. 10 Gonzaga, 85-74, on Dec. 8. It marks the second year in a row that Illinois has defeated two top-10 teams in a season, with victories over No. 9 Michigan State (42-41) and No. 5 Ohio State (79-74) last year.
4. Today’s game marked the first time that Illinois’ John Groce faced Ohio State’s Thad Matta as a head coach. Prior to becoming a head coach, Groce spend eight years as an assistant to Matta at three different schools; Ohio State, 2005-08; Xavier, 2002-04; and Butler, 2001. In Groce’s four seasons as the head coach at Ohio, the Bobcats never played the Buckeyes.
5. With today’s win, the Illini improved to 8-0 at home in 2012-13, marking the fifth-straight regular season and 13th of the past 14 in which the Illini were at least .500 at Assembly Hall.
6. Entering today’s game, Ohio State averaged just 10.3 turnovers per game. However, this afternoon, the Buckeyes turned the ball over 16 times, including 11 in the first half alone. Illinois scored 17 points off of turnovers.
7. The Illini defense held the Buckeyes to just 20 field goals in the game, limiting Ohio State to just one bucket from the field in the first 8:37 of the second half. The 20 field goals ties Ohio State’s season low as well as an Illinois’ opponent season low. OSU shot 33.3 percent from the field (20-60), which is the lowest Illinois has allowed this year and the second-worst for the Buckeyes on the season.
8. Illinois jumped out to a 5-0 lead to open the game and never trailed, marking the seventh time this season that the Illini never fell behind and the fourth time the Orange and Blue led for the entire game. The last time Illinois was ahead for an entire game against a Big Ten opponent was March 12, 2011, in a 58-54 victory over Wisconsin.
9. The Illini used a set of runs to maintain a solid lead over the Buckeyes throughout the course of the game. The Orange and Blue went on an 8-0 run early in the first half to extend their lead to 25-11, then used another 8-0 run towards the end of the first to take the largest lead of the half, 37-21. Illinois opened the second half on an 8-0 run to push ahead 45-25, then added a 7-0 run in the final minutes to move ahead 67-46 and secure the double-digit victory.
10. Brandon Paul led the Illini in scoring with 19 points, shooting 50 percent from the field (6-12) and 5-of-6 at the line, while adding seven rebounds. The senior continued to excel against the Buckeyes, totaling 62 points vs. OSU at Assembly Hall in the past two seasons, after notching 43 on Jan. 10, 2012. In the pair of games, he is 17-for-27 from the field, 10-for-16 from three, and 18-for-21 from the free throw line.
11. Nnanna Egwu had a career-high 16 points in the game, shooting a career-best 7-for-10 from the field and adding a team-high eight rebounds, one off his career high.
12. The Illini blocked eight shots in the game, one less than the season high. Joseph Bertrand led the team with a career-high three blocks.
13. Illinois out-rebounded the Buckeyes, 40-30, for the sixth 40-rebound game of the season. The Illini’s 31 defensive boards was one shy of the season high. Every Illinois player tabbed at least two rebounds, with Bertrand, Tracy Abrams, Paul and Egwu each registering at least five.