While a 19-point victory sounds good
and familiar, the game was actually much closer for much of the
night, especially the first half. Ohio State used a strong
long-distance approach to attacking the Illini, making seven of 11
3-point shot attempts in the first 20 minutes to keep the game
close. The energy seen for many games this year was absent in the
first half, and the Ohio State offense should get much of the
The Buckeyes were looking for some
good news to bring back to their troubled Columbus, Ohio, athletic
program. Just one week after acknowledging improper conduct related
to their football program, athletic director Andy Geiger announced
earlier Wednesday that he would retire later this year. Last summer,
Geiger fired then-coach Jim O'Brien after a $6,000 payment to a
recruit was uncovered, and the football team, just 20 months removed
from a national title, went through a three-game losing streak.
Hoopston native Thad Matta is the
new Buckeye basketball coach, and he is the real deal. Someone who
many thought might be called on to lead the Illini program in the
spring of 2003, Matta has the Buckeyes playing very well -- it
almost makes me want to actually root for them.
However, Illinois is the No. 1 team
in the country for a reason and showed a great amount of moxie in
the second half. After watching the Buckeyes score 40 points in the
first half, Illinois locked up the Columbus crew on defense and held
them to 25 in the second.
Illinois placed four in double
figures. Along with Augustine, Deron Williams scored 14 points, Dee
Brown had 13 despite battling the flu, and Roger Powell chipped in
12, all in the second half, after playing just five minutes in the
first half due to foul trouble. Top reserve Jack Ingram was solid
again, chipping in eight strong points, while Luther Head finished
The Orange Invasion (wearing white
on this night) continued to roll on a night when Iowa lost at home
to a depleted Michigan team, Indiana lost by 21 at Northwestern (can
someone find Mike Davis another job?) and Kansas barely beat Texas
A&M at home by five. Our point? Simple: College basketball 2004-2005
shows many signs of parity, but Illinois isn't playing by that
standard. When your team wins by 19 against an 11-2 team on an "off"
night, life is pretty good.
[to top of second column in
Five things especially caught our
eye Wednesday night:
the James Augustine offense -- Keep it coming! Augie
exploded for 16 in the first half and might have scored 25-30 if
the questionable whistles hadn't found him in the second half (see
below for further explanation).
Second-half Illini defense -- Following up the great Cincy
game effort, Illinois didn't look great in the first half on D.
The second 20 minutes was a much different story. I'm beginning to
think the defense may be the defining aspect of this team. Ohio
State center Terrance Dials absolutely killed the Illini last year
in Columbus, but Wednesday night he finished with just seven
points and attempted only five shots.
commented to our ace photographer Ed Bacon early in the game that
Illinois was really struggling with their outside shots.
Williams, Head and Brown couldn't seem to connect from long range
in the first half, but it really didn't matter. Illinois pounded
the ball inside and adjusted -- the sign of a great team: being
able to beat someone in more than one way.
season means Big Ten referees for every game -- I know you
are tired of our complaining, but we just don't get it! I'm
convinced Jeff Mayfield, Lynn Laughlin and Jim Corrona would do a
BETTER job than what I witnessed on Wednesday night in the
Assembly Hall. I can't believe the offensive goal-tending call on
Roger Powell. Several other calls were just bad -- for both teams.
While I think Ed Hightower is really good, the other two guys were
puzzling at best. Memo to the Big Ten office: LET THE GUYS PLAY
OUR FANS! Vitale can rave about Kansas, Duke and North
Carolina -- and their fans are great. But we'll take an all-orange
Assembly Hall over any of them. Give us the Orange Krush, the
Chief and the Hall -- it just doesn't get any better than this!
Question: What do you get when you combine the Orange Krush and an
orange hall with the No. 1 team is the land (usually wearing
orange)? The Orange Invasion!
returns to action Saturday on the road at West Lafayette against a
struggling Purdue team. The game is set for 3 p.m. and will be
nationally televised on CBS. Listed below are the remaining games
- Jan. 8 -- at Purdue, 3 p.m.,
- Jan. 12 -- vs. Penn State, 8
p.m., Channel 3
- Jan. 15 -- at Northwestern, 3:30
p.m., Channel 49
- Jan. 20 -- vs. Iowa, 6 p.m., ESPN
- Jan. 25 -- at Wisconsin, 6 p.m.,
- Jan. 29 -- vs. Minnesota, 1:30
p.m., Channel 3