Illinois clamped down on Ohio State, prevailing 67-49 in a 64 possession game. Offensively this was Ohio State's worst game of the season, scoring just 0.77 points per possession. Not a lot went right for the Buckeyes, but the biggest problem was the 20 turnovers. Whether or not this is an aberration remains to be seen, I think. OSU's turnovers have been creeping upward in Big Ten play, but then again, teams like Illinois and Minnesota are pretty good at forcing teams into them. Stay tuned.
I also have to tip my cap to Weber's strategy to contain Evan Turner, the Buckeyes' best and most important player (who finished with just 4 points). Although he gives up nearly half a foot, Chester Frazier was stuck on Turner for most of the game. But as soon as Turner received a pass, all of the Illini swarmed on him, and Turner was not reluctant to pass to the open teammate. Basically, Weber wanted anyone else on Ohio State to beat him, and they didn't.
On the other side of the ball, the box score of this game might make it on Dallas Lauderdale's personal bulletin board. The Illini shot 60% from inside the arc against the Buckeyes, as Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, and Dominique Keller combined for 35 points on 23 shots. And yes, some of those were mid-range shots that I thought might give OSU's shotblockers trouble. But a great many of them were not. Just a bad game for a normally elite interior defense. Given how ineffective OSU's 2 point defense was, it's actually a little surprising the Illini didn't score more in this one. Mike Tisdale led the Illini with 15 points on 7 shots. B. J. Mullens led Ohio State with 14 points on 8 shots, to go with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks (4 turnovers, however). Box score.
Penn State shut down Michigan's Manny Harris, and when you can do that, you often win. Harris finished with just 4 points as the Nittany Lions blitzed Michigan, 73-58 in a 61 possession game. The Wolverines just couldn't make any of their shots, and seemed bothered by Penn State's zone all night long. But behold the power of POT - Michigan shot just 17% on their very numerous three point attempts last night, and still posted 0.95 points per possession.
But that's not going to get it done on a night when Penn State's big three are all playing well. Jamelle Cornley, Talor Battle, and Stanley Pringle combined for 44 points on 32 shots, 19 rebounds, and 8 assists. The entire PSU team didn't miss very often, posting an eFG of 67.0. This game was over early, as Penn State was up by about 25 points before garbage time. Ed DeChellis actually got to rest his big three as well (a total of 25 minutes!). Cornley led the Nittany Lions with 17 points on 10 shots, to go with 11 rebounds. DeShawn Sims led Michigan with 21 points on 14 shots, and also had 11 boards. Box score.
This game tells us a couple of things. First, Penn State is proving to be a pretty solid team - solid enough to start talking about the NCAA Tournament. Second, Michigan is proving that those upsets over Duke and UCLA earlier this season were just that - upsets. The Wolverines figure to spend life on the bubble this season. Hey, that's still progress, right?
Tonight, Northwestern visits Michigan State, while the Badgers play Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye.