Michigan Beats Illinois 79-69 for their 7th straight win
It was a game where Michigan had to battle back and was down by 3 in the first half but came back in the second half and beat the fighting Illini 79-69.
Illinois got off to a strong start in the first half and had a pretty decent lead but Michigan came back and Illinois just could not keep up with the Wolverines in the second half. “We have to grow up,” said Head Coach Brad Underwood. “Give Michigan a lot of credit. They are a veteran team and they put on a clinic in the second half,” Underwood said.
Underwood played Michigan last year in the first round of the tournament when he was the head coach at Oklahoma State. “They do a lot of the same things that I saw last year in the tournament,” Underwood said.
One bright spot for Illinois was the play of forward Kipper Nichols. Nichols had 17 points in the game and also had 7 rebounds for the Illini. Greg Eboigbodin also had a good performance for the Illini as he had 10 points, 6 rebounds and was a perfect 5 for 5 from field goal range. Despite the loss, Underwood said the team is right where they want to be and was asked if he needed to make some changes. “We are right where we want to be,” Underwood said. “We are not shooting the ball well and not sustaining that. We have to get that figured out,” Underwood continued.
Michigan did not have a good start in the first half and was down by 3 at the half. But, it was Michigan’s bench, most notably Isaiah Livers, that brought Michigan back in the second half. “He is coming on,” said Head Coach John Beilein. “He needed a couple of good performances to gain the trust of the coaching staff and he did,” Beilein continued.
Beilein also thinks that the defense is improving this year and believes it’s improving every game. “Their growth is essential this year,” Beilein said. “Jon Teske being able to give better minutes gives us better versatility on our bench,” he continued.
Many people had good performances for the Wolverines. Moe Wagner had 14 points and 7 rebounds in the game and was also 6 for 7 from the free throw line. Duncan Robinson also had a good performance with 13 points and was a perfect 4 for 4 from the free throw line. Isaiah Livers had another break out performance with 12 points and was 5 for 7 from field goal range. Muhammad Ali Abdur- Rahkman had 13 points and 4 rebounds in the game.
The next couple of games for Michigan will be a challenge for the Wolverines as they welcome Purdue on Tuesday before traveling to East Lansing to take on the Spartans next Saturday.