This was only a 13-point loss, but it was a 13-point loss in which it never really felt like the Illini had much of a chance to win the game. The shooting woes that have been affecting this team for the last few weeks continued, and if it wasn't for Ohio State having its own struggles from three and missing free throws, this game would have been a blowout.
Which is not the greatest way to end the regular season, as the Illini have gotten extremely cold in recent weeks after playing their best basketball of the year. We're about as manic-depressive as any team in the country which is both a curse and blessing.
It's a curse because at times it leads to things like losing to Purdue and Northwestern to help us off to a 2-7 start in the Big Ten. But it's a blessing when we're beating Gonzaga, Butler, Indiana, Ohio State and Minnesota.
Just need to hope we're blessed at the right times, like maybe next Thursday through Sunday and the weekend after that as well.
But if we continue to shoot like we have been (35.4 FG%, 31.3% from three and an eFG% of only 42.7%) in the last three games, here are only going to be a couple games left before it's over.
-- Brandon Paul had another solid game. Yes, it was full of typical Brandon Paul things like draining a three on one shot and then putting up an airball 30 seconds later, but he finished with 21 points while shooting 43% from the field and grabbing 5 rebounds. The problem was he didn't get much help from anybody else.
-- I said in the preview that the Illini would need D.J. Richardson to have another big game if they wanted to win, and although D.J. was the only other Illini to finish in double-digits, he did not have a great day. He made only one of his six three-point attempts and didn't contribute much anywhere else on the floor either.
-- I can't really be mad at Myke Henry because effort-wise, he had a great day. He knew he was going to get a chance to play with Joseph Bertrand sitting out, and he tried to take advantage of it. Which can not be said of Devin Langford. Myke finished with 7 points and 8 rebounds, with six of those rebounds being on the offensive end. The problem is that after Myke got the offensive rebound he didn't do anything with it most of the time. The Illini had nine offensive rebounds as a team and finished with only six second-chance points. Offensive rebounds are a great thing to get, but unless you do something with them they're an empty statistic.
-- In the first meeting when the Illini beat Ohio State by 19 points in Champaign Nnanna Egwu finished with a season-high 16 points. Today he took two shots. Some of it was Ohio State's defense not letting the Illini get the ball to him, but most of it was the Illini just not getting the ball to him. Whether this falls on the guards or Groce, I'm not sure yet.
Points per possession: 0.87
Turnover rate: 19.0%
Free throw rate: 24.1%
Points per possession: 1.03
Turnover rate: 19.7%
Free throw rate: 51%