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Paul leads Illini past Ohio State

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Associated Press
January 11, 2012
— Brandon Paul awoke from a nap Tuesday to a text from Illinois coach Bruce Weber. The message was simple: It’s your night.

Weber couldn’t have known how right he was.


Paul scored a career-high 43—the third best scoring performance in Illinois basketball history—to lead the Illini (15-3, 4-1) past the No. 5 Buckeyes 79-74.


The most important of Paul’s shots was an off-balance 3-pointer that, with 43 seconds left, gave Illinois a 74-70 lead that all but finished the Buckeyes.


By then, the junior said, so many of his shots had fallen he couldn’t help but laugh to himself.


“I was laughing a couple times. After the first couple three’s, I just said I was going to keep shooting,” Paul said, saying he didn’t think he’d ever scored 43, even in AAU ball. “That’s the mindset that I’ve got to have.”


“Brandon Paul played like a pro tonight,” teammate Meyers Leonard added.


Buckeye coach Thad Matta said Paul’s night—and the Illinois win it guaranteed—was among the best he’s seen anyone have against Ohio State (15-3, 3-2).


“I’ve seen (former Wisconsin Badger) Jordan Taylor have one of those nights and I saw (former Purdue star) Etwuan Moore have one of those nights, and then I saw this,” Matta said. “You have to give him credit; he made plays.”


Paul scored the final 15 points for the Illini.


Ohio State led 39-34 at halftime, and was up 64-61 with just over five minutes to play.


But with the game tied at 66 with just over two minutes to play, Joseph Bertrand swiped the ball from William Buford, putting the ball in Paul’s hands for a baseline 3-pointer that put the Illini up 69-66.


Paul’s 43 points was the third-highest scoring performance in Illini history and he tied a school record with eight 3-pointers. He also had a team-high eight rebounds


Leonard added 14 for Illinois and Bertrand and D.J. Richardson scored 10 each.


Deshaun Thomas scored 23 points and Jared Sullinger added 21 for Ohio State. William Buford had 15 points for the Buckeyes and Aaron Craft added 12.


n Michigan State 95, Iowa 61—Michigan State is rolling with its longest winning streak since Tom Izzo coached in his first of six Final Fours.


Draymond Green had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the sixth-ranked Spartans beat Iowa 95-61 at East Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday night for their 15th straight win.


The victory gives Michigan State (15-2, 4-0 Big Ten) its longest win streak since the 1998-99 season, when they won 22 in a row before losing to Duke in the Final Four.


“It’s been a special team already because they’ve done what we’ve asked them to do—defend and rebound,” Izzo said. “I keep feel like I’m downgrading us, but I feel like we still have so much to learn and that’s why we were coaching to the end because we don’t want to get casual.”


The Spartans had a chance for their second-largest margin of victory over a Big Ten team, trailing only its 51-point win over Michigan during their 2000 championship season, but their reserves couldn’t maintain a 40-plus lead.


Michigan State, which improved to 11-0 at home this season, hasn’t lost since opening the season with setbacks to North Carolina and Duke.


“We’ve gone from nothing to something,” guard Keith Appling said. “When we hung around against North Carolina and Duke, we made a commitment that we’re not going to lose any more.”


The Hawkeyes (10-8, 2-3) have been routed in two straight games—they also lost to Ohio State, by 29 points—after beating Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road.


Reserve Aaron White scored 15 points and Devyn Marble had 12 for Iowa.


Michigan State went on a 16-0 run late in the first half and had a 14-0 spurt midway through the second. During the second burst, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was called for a technical for berating an official. McCaffery then directed his anger toward his players, slamming a chair in their timeout huddle and screaming in their faces.


McCaffery said he was “equally” mad at the officials and his team.



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