The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


March 14, 2013

Paul, Illini win at the buzzer

CHICAGO — There wasn’t a single person in the United Center on Thursday that didn’t know Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul was going to the final shot for the Fighting Illini.

With Illinois and Minnesota tied 49-49 with 15 seconds remaining in the Big Ten Conference’s tournament opener, Paul went 1-on-1 with Minnesota’s Austin Hollins, burying a 17-foot jumper at the buzzer giving the Illini a 51-49 victory.

“Midway through the second half, we realized it was Brandon’s morning or Brandon’s game. We tried to get him the ball as much as we could and it worked out for us,” said Illinois senior Tyler Griffey. “He was calling for it. We knew he was going to take it.

“From my vantage point on the bench, I knew it was going to in when he released it. I had a good angle.”

Paul, who scored 25 of his team’s 51 points, made the game-winning pass on the last buzzer beater for Illinois, the win over then-No. 1 Indiana, but this time around there was no passing, especially when you consider that Paul was 10-of-16 from the field and the rest of his teammates were 8-of-40.

“In those situations you got to see what the defense gives you,” he said. “ I’ve been in those situations before where the defense is flexing me and I hit an open jumper to win the game and stuff like that.

“But basically you let them come out, I saw I had some space, so I let the shot go with the buzzer winding down.”

And that’s the exact play his coach wanted to run. Illinois could have called a timeout, but Groce had complete confidence in his senior from Gurnee Warren.

“Well, Dustin (Ford) and I were talking about it there on the bench. I was about 50/50, to be honest, whether I was going to call one or not,” Groce said. “But at the end of the day, I kind of knew what I wanted to go with there. And so we, I didn’t want to give them a chance really to make any type of defensive adjustment, we just decided to ride with it.

“The big thing that we were trying to do there is make sure he didn’t go before five and seven on the game clock. We wanted to make sure that we got the last shot and worst case scenario, we would go to overtime. Obviously he made a big play.”

The two plays before the Paul game-winner were just as big for Illinois, which improves to 22-11 overall with the victory and the Illini advances into Friday’s quarterfinals where they will play the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers, the outright champions of the Big Ten regular season.

Senior D.J. Richardson buried a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left tying the game at 49-49 on a possession where Illinois had five attempts at the basket, thanks to offensive rebounds from Nnanna Egwu and Tracy Abrams.

“On our last two offensive possessions we found a way,” said Groce. “It’s fitting that two seniors in Brandon and D.J. made those plays.

“But the offensive rebound effort was also tremendous by our guys on the possession that led to D.J.’s 3. It put us in a position where we had a chance to win the game.”

And considering that Richardson had missed nine consecutive shots didn’t deter the guard from Peoria.

“My teammates found me. I kept shooting. I’m a shooter, I keep shooting. That’s what coach wants me to do. I didn’t think about how I was shooting, I just thought about how it was going to fall. I knew it was a big shot for us,” said Richardson, who finished with six points on 2-of-12 shooting. “I’ve been in situations like that my whole career. I don’t let it affect me. I’m going to keep shooting and make plays.

“I did a good job on defense. I didn’t let that affect me on defense and I made some good plays on defense. But I’m going to keep shooting no matter what. That’s my role for the team. And it worked out that I made a big shot for us.”

In between those two big shots for Illinois was a big defensive play by senior Sam McLaurin, who forced Minnesota’s Austin Hollins into a turnover with 15 seconds left.

“Sam does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet,” Richardson said. “He’s been doing a great job on the offensive rebounds. He can guard one through five. He’s been doing a good job for us the whole year.

That was a big play for us. It set the game up.

“Some of our seniors made some big plays down the stretch. They gave us the opportunity to win. They gave Brandon the opportunity to make that last shot. So Sam made a big play for us also on the defensive end as well.”

Minnesota, which falls to 20-12, was attempting to inbound the ball on the sideline when McLaurin stepped up with his pivotal defensive play.

“Coach wanted us to switch all the ball screens no matter what. We wanted to try to make it tough on them,” McLaurin said. “At the end of the play, (Trevor) Mbakwe set a screen for (Austin) Hollins. Me and Brandon switched that screen. I tried to deny Hollins a little bit, but once he caught the ball. I tried to do one of my moves that I do in the post.

“You pull your hands back and chest him a little bit. It knocked off-balance, he went back on heels, I knew he was going throw it off my legs. I jumped back, but he was already out of bounds.”

Austin Hollins, who had a team-high 16 points, committed just two of the Golden Gophers 19 turnovers in the contest and those miscues led to 21 points for the Illini.

“I thought maybe I got pushed a little bit, but I can’t, I can’t say that that caused anything,” Austin Hollins said. “The game went the way it did. It was out of my hands what happened the rest of the way. Whether they make the call or didn’t.”

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said that his team had plenty of opportunities before those final possessions.

“We were hoping to get the ball into the hands of a better shooter and Trevor was screening across for him, they took away that pass,” Smith said. “They did a good job of putting a big guy on the ball there. We also had some other people coming back to the ball and that didn’t happen, but you’ve got to be strong with the ball.

“I haven’t seen the replay, but obviously when you come to the ball, you want to come and do a jump shot and be strong with it, be physical. It didn’t happen. We turned it over 19 times and we just had a real issue with taking care of the basketball.”

Text Only
  • SPT - CN0801 - Dans photo 2 Troubles continue DANVILLE­­­ — The Danville Dans dropped their fourth straight game on Thursday night, falling 5-1 to the visiting West Virginia Miners at historic Danville Stadium for the final regular season home contest of the season.The game started a little on t

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Conservation World highlights outdoor activities at State Fair Free activities and entertainment for youth and families will give Illinois State Fair visitors a chance to sample great ways to spend time in the great outdoors in Illinois at Conservation World at this year’s state fair, on Aug. 8-17 in Springfield

    August 1, 2014

  • Local Sports Calendar TODAYLocal TennisMcTagertt Tennis Tournament at North MontgomerySATURDAYLocal TennisMcTagertt Tournament at Fountain CentralProspect League BaseballDanville Dans at Hannibal Cavemen, 7:05 p.m.TODAYAuto RacingNASCAR Sprint Cup Series: 40

    August 1, 2014

  • SPT - CN0731 - Dans photo 1 Danville boots one away DANVILLE — Keith Shumaker, an every day first baseman, was tied for the team lead in RBIs this season, before making his first start on the mound.But that was the least of the concerns for the Danville Dans, who made four fielding errors en route to

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Local Sports Calendar TODAYProspect League BaseballWest Virginia Miners at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.Local TennisMcTagertt Tennis Tournament at North Montgomery, 3:30 p.m.FRIDAYLocal TennisMcTagertt Tennis Tournament at North MontgomerySATURDAYLocal TennisMcTagertt Tourname

    July 31, 2014

  • SPT - CN0730 - Dans baseball photo 1 Dans continue to struggle DANVILLE — The Danville Dans haven’t exactly been playing their best baseball in the second half of the season. After taking the West Division title in the first half with a 19-11 record, Danville has played sub-.500 baseball in the second half and c

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0730 - Illini football media photo Experienced Illini looking for success CHICAGO — Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Tim Beckman is hoping that the third time is the charm.Beckman begins his third season at the helm of the Illini, and with the nucleus of last season’s team returning, it may finally be time for Illinois

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - CN0730 - Purdue football media photo Hazell hopes for smooth second season CHICAGO — After a season to forget in 2013, Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell is expecting better results as his team begins training camp next week. Hazell spoke to the media during the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days at the Hilton Chicago, and afte

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Calendar TODAYProspect League BaseballHannibal Cavemen at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.THURSDAYProspect League BaseballWest Virginia Miners at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.Local TennisMcTagertt Tennis Tournament at North Montgomery, 3:30 p.m.FRIDAYLocal TennisMcTagertt

    July 30, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Dustbowl photo 2 Repeat performance Championship Sunday was in full swing at the 42nd Annual Dustbowl at David S. Palmer Arena. In the men’s division it was defending champions Leek & Sons against the Hickory Beavers. Leek & Sons made it back to back championships with a 29-point victo

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014

Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here:

Must Read
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza