#10 Illinois Fighting Illini suffer first loss to #17 Missouri

john groce

Before we get to the breakdown of what happened in the Illinois Fighting Illini first loss, (Illinois was one of the last 6 unbeaten teams remaining in the nation) suffered at the hands of the Missouri Tigers 82-73, a few observations and notes on this series and rivalry overall, with updated stats.

-Why is this even called the Braggin’ Rights game? I mean seriously, how many of you Illini people actually have Mizzou people to tell how much they suck? (after Illinois wins of course)

-Why does this arena have a NBA three-point line on the floor? There hasn’t been a NBA team in St. Louis since 1965? (And why were Brandon Paul and company bombing away from that spot so much?

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Illini Guard Brandon Paul is National College Hoops Player of the Week

brandon_paul

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has selected Illinois guard Brandon Paul as its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week. And of course he’s the Big Ten Player of the Week as well.

Paul, a 6-4 junior from Gurnee, Ilinois (Warren high school), led the Illini to a 79-74 win over #5 Ohio State, scoring 43 points to go with eight rebounds and four blocks. The 43-point outburst was a career best, and marked the most points scored in a game by a Big Ten player since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994. It’s the second-highest individual scoring output of the season behind the 44 points scored by Creighton’s Greg McDermott vs. Bradley.

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Illini Hoops Want More Defense Behind Leaders Richardson, Paul

brandon_paul

One of the biggest reasons the Illini fell well short of preseason expectations last year was their lack of defensive heart and intensity. It isn’t like a Bruce Weber coached team to not defend, and last year Illinois lost way too many games because their inability to get stops down the stetch and in crunch time.

Especially on the road, Illinois would dig deep holes for themselves right off the bat. Later, they would score enough to catch up, but their failures on the other end kept them from closing the gap.

This season Weber wont have to deal with the constant motivational issues with Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis, psychological issues with Mike Tisdale and off-the-court isseus with Jereme Richmond. In a sense there’s addition by subtraction. Illini best defender, D.J. Richardson is back, and he along with Brandon Paul, the other only juniors on a team with no seniors, will be expected be the leaders.

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Sophomore Brandon Paul electrifies Illini Opener Once Again

brandon_paul

Where was this Brandon Paul in February and March? For the second year in a row, Paul started the Illini season off with an impressive showing.

Last year against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Paul stole the spotlight of the season opener, draining 4 of 6 shots from behind the arc and finishing with 22 points – a freshman debut scoring record. Tuesday, opening the season against UC Irvine, he shot a career high 6 of 8 from three-point land. He finished the game with 18 points.

“Brandon, he’s pretty good in first games,” Bruce Weber joked in the post game press conference. “He’s continued that trend, and obviously he’s not going to shoot that well. But there’s no doubt he’s improved his three-point shooting from last year.”

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You Can Possibly Spell Fighting Illini with NIT Still

By Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt

Never bet against red on Valentine’s Day. The scarlet clad Ohio State Buckeyes 72-53 dominance of Illinois on February 14th was both shocking and disturbing. Like finding out your fiance once appeared in an early “Girls Gone Wild” video. It dramatically alters both your expectations and your beliefs.

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Video Illini G Brandon Paul Exclusive

Illinois

By Paul M. Banks

Illini freshman guard Brandon Paul is a consensus Top 50 recruit. His final year of prep ball he averaged 19.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 steals as a senior, leading Warren (Gurnee) to the IHSA sectional finals. The 2009 Illinois Mr. Basketball, the 10th Mr. Basketball to play for the Illini, and the first since 2002 recipient Dee Brown was a consensus first-team All-State pick as a senior by the Associated Press. Paul is also ranked No. 49 on the recruiting services consensus index, including No. 35 by Prep Stars and No. 42 by Rivals.com.

His TSB exclusive video interview is below

For Alex Legion and Dominique Keller click here
For D.J. Richardson click here