Brandon Paul hit a jumper as time expired to beat Minnesota 51-49 Thursday. Paul had an open floor and hit the shot on a step-back fade-away to beat the Gophers in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Gurnee, Illinois led all scorers with 25 points in the big win. Paul added five rebounds and two assists before hitting the biggest shot of his senior season.
Minnesota was up by three with under a minute left in the game when D.J. Richardson made a three-pointer to tie the score at 49. Austin Hollins stepped out of bounds on the next Minnesota possession, giving way to Paul’s clutch shot.
No other Illinois player finished in double figures, as Brandon Paul made two more shots than the rest of his entire team combined with 10. Paul was also 4-for-8 from behind the arc before he shocked the crowd with his game-winning jumper.
Austin and Andre Hollins led Minnesota with 16 and 13 points respectively. Both teams finished the regular season with 8-10 records in the Big Ten and started the conference tournament off with a bang.
Illinois led Minnesota by as much as 12 points before giving up the lead in the second half. The two teams faced off twice earlier this season, each winning one game. The surprising part is that Minnesota first beat Illinois on the road before losing to the Illini at home a month later.
The Gophers started the game on a 7-2 run before going cold or, better yet, completely frozen. Minnesota didn’t score a single bucket over the next eight minutes.
Minnesota had 11 turnovers before Paul’s buzzer-beater sent them home early from the Big Ten tournament. The Gophers beat themselves the whole game, putting up bad shots and letting Paul run all over them.
If you didn’t have a chance to see Brandon Paul’s buzzer-beater, here it is:
The Illini will take on Indiana in the second round of the Big Ten tournament. Indiana is the top seed in the tournament and ranked No. 3 nationally. If Illinois can beat Indiana in the quarterfinals, they will strongly increase their chance of receiving a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Brandon Paul stole the show in style, dropping the huge shot before being jumped on by his teammates near the bench. Paul hits the biggest shot at the right time, and Illinois moves on in hopes of getting a bid to the Big Dance.