Maybe the Ohio State Buckeyes aren't so tough after all. They basically got beat by one man on Tuesday night.
Things have just gone final in Champaign, Illinois where the Fighting Illini knocked off the fifth-ranked Buckeyes 79-74. They couldn't have done it without the services of junior guard Brandon Paul. All he did was score over half of Illinois' 79 points.
When the final buzzer sounded, Paul had 43 points. He missed only four of his 15 shots from the field, and he made a whopping eight three-pointers. He also got to the line 15 times, making 13 shots from the charity stripe.
For good measure, Paul pitched in eight rebounds and four blocks.
In a word, Paul owned this game.
And important people took note. You know that you had a good game when Dick Vitale creates a hashtag in your honor:
The question now is whether or not Paul's explosive effort against Ohio State is the best game of any player so far this season. I guess we'll know it was when #BrandonPaul makes it on the list of top Twitter trends.
If that fails, another testament to the sheer hugeness of Paul's performance is how it totally overshadowed the fact that Ohio State put forth yet another strong team effort. Four Buckeyes scored in double figures, with Jared Sullinger leading the way with 23.
Make no mistake, the Buckeyes didn't necessarily play a bad game. They just got beaten by one guy who happened to have the game of his life.
Thanks to Paul's huge game, things just got very interesting in the Big Ten. The conference seemed to belong to teams like Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana and Michigan, but Illinois just sent a pretty loud message.
Even if this message doesn't stick, you have to tip your cap to the guy who sent it. Paul just set the bar for individual performances for the 2011-2012 season.
Good luck to anybody who aims to set the bar even higher.