Illinois vs. Number ONE Ohio State LIVE BLOG!!

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30 Minutes Until Tipoff: It’s gameday in Champaign, everyone!! I know that everyone is focused on the Bears and Packers this weekend, but this is a big-time game! There’s no messing around today!

It’s Ohio State! Jared Sullinger! David Lighty! William Buford! The hated John Diebler!

GUS JOHNSON IS CALLING THE GAME!!!!

Is there a better recipe for an upset?

23 Minutes Until Tipoff: OK, let’s talk key players. For an Ohio State team that doesn’t go deep, they will need to get production from John Diebler, their three point specialist. Diebler is one of those players you love if he is on your team, but hate if you have to play him. If the Illini can contain Diebler from the outside, their path to a victory becomes much easier.

As for the Illini, there are a couple guys…Jereme Richmond will need to have the game he had against Michigan State, where he played LIKE A MAN. Athletically, no team can match up with Richmond, and he prevents such a matchup problem that you have to account for him on the court.

Also, the Illini triumvirate oof Mike Tisdale, Meyers Leonard and Tyler Griffey have 15 fouls to give on Jared Sullinger. To some extent, you have to believe he is going to get his against the Illini front line. Let’s hope that TisLeonFey make him earn a lot of those points at the charity stripe. Let’s see what he’s got toughness-wise.

10 Minutes Til Tipoff: Is winning this game revenge for the Illini, from 2005 when the Buckeyes took down the undefeated number one Illini? Sort of, says I. I feel like it was a cathartic experience beating North Carolina this season, and I feel as though taking down a number one rated Buckeye squad will be similar. Still, we’ve beaten Ohio State since then, and the rankings truly mean nothing…

But to say this isn’t an important game would be kidding yourself. It’s huge. A win makes Illinois almost a lock for the NCAAs. So in short…yeah, it’s kind of a big deal…

Lineups and TIPOFF: OK, prediction time. The Illini are tough at home and not on the road, and they are just too good here sometimes. The Hall is Orange. The new white uniforms look awesome. Bruce is in the orange blazer. Let’s do this thing, Illini Nation: Illinois 77, Ohio State 67.

Tipoff: One more thing…don’t underestimate how loud it is in here right now. It is rivalling last year’s Michigan State game with ESPN’s GameDay here. The Krush IS JACKED. UP.

19:12 left 1st Half: It didn’t take long to see some sweet Jared Sullinger post moves. He just posted up Tisdale like it was nothing.

18:30 left 1st Half: OH LAWDY! DJ RICHARDSON!!! FOR!!! THREEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

18:10 left 1st Half: EFFORT from Bill Cole! And-one gives the Illini an early 6-2 lead. Let’s say this one is over now, ok?

17:46 left 1st Half: Also, by way of a public service announcement, this is likely going to be a heavy caps lock zone today…

16:02 left 1st Half: WOW…Tisdale throws a Sullinger short into the stands, followed by a Diebler three. Tis also talked some shit there, and was warned by the official. Interesting that he would jaw at Sully…but…

15:30 left 1st Half: 9 to 1 rebound margin for Ohio State has led to a 9-6 lead overall. They are manhandling the Illini in the post, making the Tisdale smack talk last update even more interesting. I’m not sure what to make of the Illini so far…they look fired up but are gunning from three point range, and offensively look a little out of sync. I expect Bruce calmed the troops down a bit there, but they need to look for better shots on drives or with entry passes to challenge Sullinger on defense.

13:36 left 1st Half: Couple of really bad turnovers for the Illini early and the offense still isn’t moving much. The Illini trail by three is all, still. So there is hope.

11:55 left 1st Half: Oh, good look from Richmond off of the offensive glass. Hits Meyers Leonard in stride for a dunk. Jereme looks like he is feeling it.

10:55 left 1st Half: Ugh. Bad sequence there, Richmond got fouled on a short jumper, no call, and then the Illini don’t get back on D and Meyers Leonard is forced to foul David Lighty on a fastbreak layup. There cannot be defensive lapses like that against this Ohio State team.

Also, John Diebler has gotten three wide-open looks, and hit two of them. He’ll most likely keep hitting that percentage if you give him room.

9:51 left 1st Half: Stopping for blood on the floor, and we don’t actually know who is bleeding, which is weird. Also, the Illini are running WAY too much time off the shot clock and not getting good looks…down 20-14 here, it feels like the Buckeyes are going to make a run.

8:58 left 1st Half: Maybe this is why Thad Matta doesn’t go to his bench much. Dehaun Thomas just picked up two fouls in two minutes as the seventh guy off the bench.

7:59 left 1st Half: BRANDON PAUL!!! FOR!!! THREEEEEEEEEE!!!!

7:34 left 1st Half: 8 points for the big man from tOSU, and Sullinger is ridiculously good. I think he could score on every possession if he wants.

At the under-8 timeout, the Illini really are looking better now, and I think that they still can win this game. They are actually struggling more on the offensive end, which I didn’t anticipate, but it does look like they are heating up a little. The Illini are within one point, McCamey hasn’t scored and has only one assist. If you’re an Illini fan, you HAVE to feel good about that.

6:44 left 1st half: OK, two assists for McCamey…pretty look to Paul on the fast break and he completes the And-One…and the Illini lead by 1. Heady times, Illini fans!

5:00 left 1st half : Big trouble here…McCamey to the bech with two fouls, and the Illini need to find some offensive cohesion. They look out of sync…a Tisdale sky hook ties the game at 26, but it wasn’t a good possession.

3:55 left 1st half: I don’t know if Ohio State will ever miss a three again as David Lighty hits a three to give th Buckeyes back a three point lead.

At the uner-4 time out now, and I don’t think the Illini can afford to go the rest of the half without having Cames in the game. I don’t want him to pick up a third, but Ohio State looks like a better team without Demetri on the floor, and after taking the lead back, the Illini can’t afford to let this get back to six or eight points.

2:53 left 1st Half: And just like that the Illini trail by seven.  I hate being right.

:13.8 left 1st Half: And sometimes I love being wrong!!! 8-0 run by the Illini!

HALFTIME: Chills baby, chills. Illini lead 34-33, and their defense is carrying them. Read that again: their DEFENSE is carrying them.  I don’t even know what to do with that information.

Offensively, I’m not convinced the Illini have anything figured out, although I think we need to create a twitter hashtag that says #feed22 to get the ball to Jereme Richmond as much as possible. In a matchup of high profile freshmen, this is really a battle, and I’m not sure that Sullinger is winning it. The Illini, without much of anything from McCamey and Mike Davis, have been carried by Jereme Richmond. Absolutely carried. They have no one to defend him, and he has 12 points and six boards. Welcome to your coming out party, Jereme. I hope you like the food.

Also…just FYI…Illinois is 13-0 this season when leading at halftime.  Just sayin’.

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