E.J. Liddell broke Illinois' hearts three years ago when he made the decision to continue his basketball career in Columbus.
Since coming to Ohio State, he hasn't let that pain subside.
Liddell had his first career double-double against his hometown last year and he backed that up on Saturday with a career-high of 26 points as the Buckeyes knocked off the Illini.
Liddell constantly denied his performance was affected by playing back in his home state, saying it was all about the other players in Scarlet and Gray.
“It's my home-state school, but that's not what motivated me today,” Liddell said. “It was my teammates. I felt like I needed to do more to help us win today. I didn't really have the best game against Northwestern, and that's why they stayed in it most of the time. But I just felt like today, I just did everything I could for my teammates. Tonight it was just scoring, and that's how we got the win.”
After a not-so-spectacular performance against Northwestern, Liddell returned to the court Saturday with the determination to do better.
And that's exactly what he did.
Liddell scored a career-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-7 from deep. He also added seven rebounds to lead Ohio State to victory over the now 9-5 Fighting Illini.
While his performance Saturday was quite memorable, Liddell knows the culture the Buckeyes so deeply cherish is why they've been able to withstand some challenges lately.
“Our culture is about everybody buying in, Liddell said. “Everybody buying in every single day. We take it day by day. Today we got better, tomorrow we’re going to get better … we just keep putting our heads down and grinding.”
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