When fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth, a win’s a win, especially on the road in the Big Ten.
That’s about all the Illinois Fighting Illini could say after surviving Michigan at Crisler Arena on February 23rd.
Despite the lack of a killer instinct and a way too many turnovers, the 17-10 Fighting Illini got the must-have victory in Ann Arbor, thanks in large part to Michigan having an absolutely brutal night shooting the ball.
Illinois’ hardly convincing performance would be a sign of bad things to come days later, when Minnesota would enter the Assembly Hall and give the Illini its most crippling loss of the season.
Where I Was for This Game: Watching from home, getting frustrated at the choppiness of this game, and being thankful afterwards that Michigan pretty much gave Illinois this victory with awful three-point and interior shooting.
What I Remember from This Game:
● Getting frustrated with how sloppy Illinois played in this game, and thinking that Michigan would have won if it could have hit an open shot.
What Surprised Me/Stood Out Upon A Second Viewing:
● Forgot that Vegas had Illinois as the underdog heading into this game.
● Did not realize that Demetri McCamey had a career-high 9 rebounds in this game.
● Slipped my mind that this game took place on the 25th anniversary of when Indiana head coach Bob Knight infamously threw the chair across the floor against Purdue, back in 1985. Illinois head coach and then Purdue assistant coach Bruce Weber would share an anecdote on that famous moment in Big Ten history during the Michigan game.
Let’s do this thing, which was the only time Illinois and Michigan would see each other in 2009-2010.
Illinois Fighting Illini (17-10, 9-5) vs. Michigan Wolverines (13-13, 6-8)
Weber goes with his regular starting lineup of G Demetri McCamey, G D.J. Richardson, F Bill Cole, F Mike Davis, and C Mike Tisdale.
Michigan head coach John Beilein starts G Stu Douglass, G Manny Harris, G Darius Morris , G Zack Novak and F Deshawn Sims.
Announcers: Brent Musberger and Steve Lavin
Note: I missed the first couple of minutes of this game when I originally recorded it. I’ll pick up the action at 17:55, with Michigan leading 3-0.
● Demetri McCamey: Nice push on a Sims’ missed layup and then pull-up jumper on the break for a 3-2 ILL deficit with 17:27 to go. Great dribble penetration and kick to Richardson in the corner at 15:32, but the Illini freshman can’t can the three. Steps up and drills a three at 15:24 after Cole snagged a long offensive board off a missed Richardson three. Illinois leads 7-3. Nice attack off the bounce at 14:17, drawing a foul on Lucas-Perry and leading to the under-16.
Gets a tough pop-back, baseline jumper off the pick and roll to fall at 13:55, giving the Illini an 11-3 lead. Nice to see McCamey look for his shot off the screen and roll. As great as he has been in the pick and roll during the last few games, McCamey hasn’t been shooting the ball nearly enough. He’s got 3 field goals in the first 6 minutes.
Back in at 9:22 for Jordan. Forces a very quick pull-up jumper at 7:58; bad shot selection there after Michigan missed a three, with McCamey simply chucking one up. Good job of at least getting back and closing out on Matt Vogrich, who badly misses a corner three.
Gets away with a travel on a crossover move but then turns the ball over on a sloppy pass at 5:44, which leads to Morris getting on the break and Tisdale fouling him. Gets his first assist at 5:09, hitting Richardson for a corner three in the transition game after a Douglass miss for Michigan.
Nice hit ahead to Davis at 1:02, following a Cole steal and leading to a dunk. Slow and a bit lazy closeout at 44.7, as Novak buries a three to cut the Michigan deficit to 26-18. Good job of getting back on the final possession of the half, nearly drawing a charge on Harris. There is no call, though, as Harris misses a layup and the Illini lead 26-18 at the break.
Air balls a curl three on the first possession of the second half. A good job of not hanging his head though as he got back on defense and swiped the ball away from Douglass on layup attempt. Douglass recovers the ball but has a layup blocked by Cole. Lackadaisical when trying to split the middle of a Michigan dribble off the bounce, with the ball stolen from him and kicked to Harris for a dunk and 26-25 game in favor of Illinois with 17:19 to go. Illinois takes a timeout.
Gets called for a terrible foul at 15:05, after he boxed out Harris and got under him, lifting the Michigan player into the air after a Novak miss. The refs said McCamey rode him out. I don’t know about that. Harris jumped over his back, in my opinion. Illinois caught a break anyways on that possession as Novak missed an open three from the top of the key. Nice penetration at 13:31 and dish to Tisdale for an easy layup and 4-point Illinois lead (32-28). That play was created by a nice hesitation dribble from McCamey. Nice closeout on a missed Lucas-Perry three that rims in and out at 9:52, and then follows up on the next Illini possession with a nice pull up at 9:39 to put the Illini up 36-31. Great off the ball movement at 9:03, catching and squaring for a three from the right wing that is drained, giving the Illini a 39-33 lead. McCamey with a couple of big shots, and 8 rebounds thus far. Those 8 rebounds tied a career-high for McCamey at the time.
Air balls a fade-away three with the shot clock down to 1 at 7:21. Illinois with a bad possession there. The Illini are trying to draw out their possessions, but still need to be aggressive.
Nearly slips in a left-handed baseline layup at 4:21 from the right side of the hoop after tight walking the baseline.
Great penetration and find off a scramble play with 1:52 left, hitting Davis for a dunk. Fouled at 1:22 and hits both free throws to put Illinois up 48-40. Tough box out on Sims at 1:08, but the Michigan senior still tips in a missed Morris shot to cut the Illini lead to 48-42.
Is called for a backcourt violation with 45.2 seconds left and Illinois clinging to a 48-42 lead. Looks like he got pushed in the back.
Overall: 14 points (5-for-9 shooting), 9 rebounds and 4 assists in 37 minutes. Did have 5 of Illinois’ 17 turnovers. Hit some big shots in the second half, and contributed more than usual on the boards, but didn’t have the best floor game. At the end of the day, got things done, though he had 10 turnovers in the last two games, which was a bit concerting.
● D.J. Richardson: Misses a curl jumper off the bounce at 16:35. Illinois did a nice job of utilizing the dribble handoff game on that possession, leading to the open shot. A bit slow to get over an off-the-ball screen at 16:07, but Manny Harris misses a slightly contested three from the top of the key. Misses an open corner three at 15:32, with the play set up by nice penetration from McCamey. Nice underhand shovel pass to Davis, who slams home the ball at 14:49 to put Illinois up 9-3.
Good hands at 12:47, getting into the passing lane and nearly knocking a pass intended for Harris off the Michigan junior. Gets replaced by Jeff Jordan after the near steal.
Back in out of the under-12 for McCamey. Nice hands at 10:54, stealing a Michigan pass intended for Novak but loosing the ball on a bit of a rushed dribble. Tisdale will get on the floor and come up with the loose ball, with Illinois getting a :30 second timeout. Nice pump fake leads to an aggressive drive at 9:22, when Richardson gets caught in the air under the basket and throws a wild crosscourt pass that Paul can’t handle, going out of bounds to Michigan.
Nice job at 6:51, getting off a screen and closing out aggressively on Harris, who throws up an air ball on a mid-range jumper from inside the key. Nice job of filling out the wing and spotting up in the corner at 5:09, when he hits a corner three after a Douglass miss for a 20-13 Illinois lead. A bit slow to cover Harris off the ball at 4:42 but the Michigan junior misses the three from the left wing. Weber saw that play coming and was screaming for Richardson to get over and close out. Hits an opportunity three at 4 minutes after Davis batted out a Tisdale miss to him for the shot and a 23-13 ILL lead.
A bit slow guarding Harris off the curl at 2:28, and UM junior hits a tough layup in the lane over Tisdale for a 24-15 game in favor of the Illini. Rushes and misses a three in the secondary transition at 1:16. Illinois would have been better served to pull the ball out and run some clock. Misses a tough baseline runner with 9.8 seconds left and the shot clock running down.
Poor close out on Harris in transition, as the Michigan junior blows by Richardson at 19:07 for a layup and a 26-20 game in favor of the Illini. Matador defense, Lavin says. Good look off a curl screen at 17:47 but his three rattles in and out. Nice attempt on the offensive board at 16:42, with his tap in of a Tisdale miss coming up short. Dribbles out of control to the baseline and gets caught in the air at 16:07, when his desperation pass to Davis under the basket is stolen. Michigan gets on the break after the turnover and Cole fouls Harris at the rim. Harris hits both free throws to put Michigan up 27-26.
Misses an open corner three off a nice inbounds play at 15:44, but Illinois retains the possession when Tisdale is fouled down low on the offensive rebound attempt. Called for a holding foul on the floor at 14:54, just before Harris had beaten him baseline. Slow to get over a screen and cut off the driving lane for Harris, who gets into the lane and is fouled by Tisdale at 13:51. Gets replaced with Cole. Harris hits one of two to cut the Illinois lead to 30-28.
Good baseline drive at 10:42, but has his shot blocked at the rim, leading to a Michigan break and a McCamey foul on Harris at the rim. Harris hits one of two to cut the Illinois lead to 34-31.
Good hustle at 6:37, tapping out a badly missed Tisdale jumper, with the Illini retaining the possession. Terrible dribble containment at 5:14, allowing Harris to drive from the wing to the basket, but the Michigan junior misses a point-blank layup. Struggles to keep Harris in front of him at 4:38, but the Michigan junior misses another layup in close.
Allows penetration to Harris at 34 seconds, but another point-blank layup is missed by the Michigan junior. Gets fouled at 28.7 seconds and hits the front and back end of the one-and-one to put the Illini up 50-42.
Overall: 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 37 minutes. Struggled with his shot (2-for-12 from three) and with containing Harris, who missed 3 easy layups in the second half. His only two field goals were from three, during a brief Richardson spurt in the first half.
● Bill Cole: Misses an open three at 15:49 as the Illini had good ball movement on that possession. Nice offensive rebound of a missed Richardson three at 15:29. Nice help defense at the rim at 14:56, altering the at-the-rim shot of Sims, who was rolling after setting a screen.
Back in at 9:22 for Paul.
Bad entry pass to a posting Davis is stolen at 5:22 but Douglass misses a transition pull up. A good job by Cole of getting back and securing the rebound on the miss.
Nice hands at 1:03, stripping the ball from a Wolverine on a play that will lead to a Davis dunk.
Great job at 19:36, coming down to block a Douglass inside attempt, take away the ball and then draw a foul on Harris. Good job of hanging around the rim at 18:36, stealing a Michigan pass after a rebound of a Davis miss. However, Cole misses a point-blank layup.
Back in at 13:51 for Richardson.
Misses an open three at the top of the key at 10:19. A bit mechanical on that shot and his release point was off to the side.
Good closeout at 3:14 on a missed Novak three. Misses an open three at 2:43.
Overall: 0 points (0-for-5 from field, including 3 missed threes), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 28 minutes. Made some toughness plays but struggled to hit the open look.
● Mike Davis: Good closeout on a missed Laval Lucas-Perry three-point attempt in the corner at 15:41. A great job of running the court at 14:49, with Richardson finding him for a two-handed slam and a 9-3 lead.
Hits a nice face-up jumper from just inside the three-point line at 13:03, giving Illinois a 13-5 lead. Illinois’ offense has been rolling in the last couple of possessions, with nice patience, movement and execution. Good use of his length at 12:31, coming out on Novak after the Michigan player faded off the screen and forcing a difficult three that was missed badly.
A bit slow to closeout on Lucas Perry at 11:18, but Michigan badly misses another three. Good post up of Zack Gibson at 11:01 but misses a righty baseline hook. Loves to go up one-handed; would like to see him shoot more with both hands involved, perhaps a fade-away baseline shot, as Davis tends to rush the one-handed push. Bad crosscourt pass from the baseline is stolen at 10 minutes. Catches a break at 9:35, failing to get over a screen and looking gassed on a very late closeout attempt of an open Novak three that is missed.
At 5:56, Davis briefly falls asleep on a ball fake at the elbow by Gibson, who drives to the baseline and then kicks to Sims for a layup and a 17-10 game in favor of the Illini. Gets fouled on a baseline jumper at 4:36, but misses both free throws. Great activity at 4 minutes, making a high low pass to Tisdale, who misses a half hook in the lane, and then keeping the possession alive by crashing the board and tapping it out to Richardson, who buries an open three. Gets fouled on a baseline shot off a nice dribble drive at 2:43, leading to the under-4. Hits one of two free throws out of the under-4 to put the Illini up 24-13. Misses a point blank layup at 2:13, after a great pass from McCamey at the rim from the screen and roll game. Nice job of running the floor at 1:02, getting a dunk after Cole stole the ball and found McCamey, who hit Davis up court for the easy two and a 26-15 ILL lead.
Badly misses a forced and contested jumper that is about a step out of his range with 18:38 to go. Gets yanked at 18:23 after failing to put a body on Sims, who gets an offensive board but has the ball knocked out of bounds.
Back in for Griffey at 17:19 after an Illinois timeout. Good job of getting off a screen at 14:49 and getting his hand up to contest a missed Douglass three. Then runs the floor and McCamey finds him down court for a dunk at 14:42 for a 28-27 ILL lead. Does a good job on the next Illini defensive possession, getting his hand out to contest a missed Novak three and then misses a baseline jumper himself at 14:09. Can’t handle a bad post pass from Tisdale at 11:48, with the ball going out of bounds to Michigan and leading us to the under-12.
Loses Gibson off the ball and under the basket at 9:21, leading to a layup and 36-33 game in favor of the Illini. Nice post up of the smaller Lucas-Perry at 8:22, and a good job of being patient and using a couple of dribbles to create some space and hit a righty push shot, giving the Illini a 41-33 lead. Makes a cardinal mistake at 8:00, saving a loose ball under the Illini basket (rather than throwing it out to half court). Michigan comes up with the ball and Sims is fouled at the rim by Tisdale, leading to the under-8. Sims misses both free throws out of the under-8.
Bad box out at 7 minutes as Sims taps in a missed three by Morris to cut the Illinois lead to 41-35. Big-time leaps at 5:45, skying for an offensive rebound and getting fouled in the midst of grabbing a missed three from Richardson, who cannot buy a jumper in the second half. That was a tenacious rebound and great effort. Where is that energy from Davis all the time? Goes under a down screen at 3:59, allowing Harris to flare out and hit an open three to cut the Illini lead to 44-38. Bad high low pass to Tisdale at 3:28 goes out of bounds and leads to the under-4.
Good activity at 2:43 nearly tipping in a missed Cole three and at 2:34 nearly blocking a Morris layup attempt. Unfortunately, Harris follows up that miss with a put back that cuts the Illinois lead to 44-40 with 2:34 to go. Nice job of finishing a lob dunk from McCamey at 1:52 to put Illinois up 46-40. Is hooting and hollering after the play, and gets shoved by Morris. No need to taunt considering how inconsistent Illinois has been and how lucky the Illini are to be winning this game.
Overall: 13 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers in 38 minutes. Had a lot of looks (12), and hit half of them. His energy and activity was great in spurts. Still, frustrated at other times. Is the symbol of Illinois’ up-and-down play and attitude.
● Mike Tisdale: Nice help defense off the pick and roll game at 17:01, doing a good job of sliding his feet and staying with Douglass, who missed a lefty layup that was knocked out of bounds to Illinois. The Illini catch a break at 16:34 as Tisdale was slow to close out on the wide open Douglass, who misses an open three. Nice job of getting back down court and posting up the smaller Novak at 16:26, drawing a foul on a nice post feed from McCamey. Tisdale hits both free throws to put Illinois ahead 4-3.
Back in out of the under-12 for Griffey. Great hustle at 10:51, getting on the floor, coming up with a loose ball and getting a :30 second timeout. A bit slow to close out on Perry at 10:10, but Michigan misses another corner three. Gets called for a travel at 8:29 as he shuffled his feet when making his move across the lane for a running hook. Fails to box out Sims on a missed Vogrich three, and Illinois gives up the offensive board and foul, leading to the under-8. Sims hits one of two free throws out of the under-8 to cut the Illinois lead to 15-10.
Nice work on the offensive boards at 7:12, forcing a tie up after a Cole miss. The possession arrow stays with Michigan. Breaks a 6-minute Illinois scoring draught with a nice half-hook in the lane at 6:28. A good job of Tisdale being patient there and using the dribble to get into his shot and give the Illini a 17-10 lead. Great position defense at 6 minutes, keeping his hands up and his feet on the floor as Sims throws up several pump fakes, only to have the ball blocked away. Gets away with an intentional foul at 5:42 as he fouled Morris on the break. The refs don’t see it that way, but Morris hits one of two free throws to cut the Illinois lead to 17-13.
Good job at 1:52, using his length to force a fade-away miss by Sims. Michigan gets the rebound but Tisdale will later secure the rebound on a missed three by Douglass.
Catches and misses a left-handed hook at 19:13. Good move there, going middle and then through for the lefty bank, which went in and out. Called for a tough blocking call on Sims at 18:15. Must guard the quicker Sims with Davis out. Sims faces at 18 minutes but misses a jumper over Tisdale. Misses an open jumper off the pick and pop at 16:42. That shot has been going down recently.
Nice catch at the basket and lay in at 13:31 to put the Illini up 32-28. Play was set up by McCamey penetration, and Tisdale did a nice job of keeping that ball high when going up. Nice post position, catch and baseline half hook from the right block at 12:44 to put the Illini up 34-30. A good feed from Davis on that play. Good help on a driving Morris and then a nice closeout on Gibson at 12:17 as a three-pointer was missed. Bad post pass to Davis at 11:48 leads to a turnover and the under-12.
Great job of moving his feet on a long defensive possession out of the under-12. Michigan had Tisdale on the perimeter several times, but the Illini big man did not give up the drive on a possession that ended up with Harris missing a long two at 10:50.
Poor job at 6:20 as he caught the ball of the pick and pop and made a weak reverse pass that was stolen by Harris. Good job of getting back and not fouling Harris, who misses a layup. Tisdale gets the rebound, but is tied up. The possession arrow goes to Michigan. Got to keep the ball higher. Good defense at 5:56, moving his feet on a Sims’ baseline drive that results in a wild underhand shot under the hoop. Poor job of catching the ball in the post and keeping it low rather than high at 5:04, with Novak coming from behind to strip the ball.
Big offensive rebound of a missed Richardson three with 1:54, with the extended possession leading to a quick Davis lob dunk. Good help, along with Cole at 1:30, as Novak missed a difficult floater in the lane.
Gets cut under the eye at 50.1 seconds, with Illinois leading 48-42 and calling a timeout.
Hits one of two free throws at 16.7 seconds to put the Illini up 51-42.
Overall: 9 points, 11 rebounds, 1 block and 3 turnovers in 37 minutes. 3 turnovers are high, but Tisdale made some big plays when it mattered, including a late offensive rebound that led to a Davis dunk. I liked his defensive effort and conditioning all night, even if the pip and pop game wasn’t working.
● Brandon Paul: In out of the under-16 for Cole. Great job of getting into the lane while staying under control and then finding Griffey for a layup at 12:11, giving Illinois a 15-6 lead. Can’t handle a Davis pass at 11:39, kicking it out of bounds and leading to the under-12.
Misses a three at 10:18 with the shot clock down to under 5 seconds. The ball failed to get inside the three-point line on that possession, and Paul had to put that shot up.
In at 16:04 for Cole.
Misses an open three at 15:11, gets the long rebound, but is not strong enough as the ball is taken out of his hands. Great job on the offensive glass at 14:08, rebounding a missed Davis shot and then sticking it in off the glass for a 30-27 Illinois lead. Slow to help at 13 minutes, after Tisdale hedged a screen, with Gibson finishing at the basket to cut the Illini lead to 32-30.
Back in at 8:51 for Cole.
Misses an aggressive layup off a nasty crossover at 5:36; however, he stays with the board, catches the ball of the glass and throws it into the hoop (plus the foul) to give Illinois a 43-35 lead with 5:34 to go. A pogo-stick play by Paul, who misses the free throw. Nice job at 4:58, getting back on defense after a Tisdale turnover and stealing a Michigan pass on the break. Then fills the lane at 4:52 after hitting it to McCamey and just misses a crazy one-handed dunk attempt. Paul’s stunning athleticism has been apparent in the last couple of possessions. Paul hits one of two free throws to put Illinois up 44-35 with 4:52 remaining.
Turns the ball over with 8 seconds left after a Morris layup cut the Illinois lead to 51-44, but Michigan’s Gibson misses a three and Illinois dribbles the clock out to end the game.
Overall: 5 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 turnovers in 15 minutes. Averaged a turnover every 5 minutes, but made a couple of big plays in the second half to keep the Illini out in front. Showed off his amazing athleticism on those plays. Can’t wait until this kid becomes a consistent player.
● Tyler Griffey: In out of the under-16 for Tisdale. Great closeout at 13:29, but Novak hits a difficult three from the top of the key to cut the Illinois lead to 11-6. Nice dive to the goal at 12:11, receiving a nice pass from the driving Paul and hitting an easy layup for a 15-6 Illinois lead.
In at 18:23 for Davis. Falls asleep at 17:36, failing to close out on Novak, who gets down in the secondary break and hits a three to cut the ILL lead to 26-23.
In for Tisdale at 1:08 and has the ball tied up. Luckily, the possession arrow goes to Illinois and Griffey is pulled back out for Tisdale.
Overall: 2 points and 1 rebound in 3 minutes. Not ready to guard the perimeter at this point in his career, thus the low minutes against Michigan.
● Jeff Jordan: In at 12:47 for Richardson.
Overall: 1 rebound in 4 minutes.
● Dominique Keller: In for the first time at 9:22, replacing Davis, who’s been out there the whole game thus far. Doubles down Sims at 9:02 and is a bit slow recovering on Zack Gibson, who hits a three to cut the Illinois lead to 15-9. Good help defense and closeout on the open Stu Douglass at 8:05, with Michigan missing another three.
Overall: In Weber’s dog house at this time of the year, getting just 1 minute.
● Bruce Weber: Illinois leads 9-3 at the under-16. After falling behind 3-0, the Illini are on a 9-0 run. Illinois is doing a nice job of limiting Michigan to one shot and then pushing the ball. The Wolverines are frigid, going 1-for-10 from the field thus far but getting open looks. Illinois is 3-for-7 from the field and coming up with some hustle rebounds.
Illinois leads 15-6 at the under-12. I forgot that the Illini actually came out and played well early in this game (the execution would not be as good in the second half). Illinois has made its last five field goals and is on a 15-3 run. Illinois is 6-for-10 from the field; Michigan 2-for-12. The Wolverines are 0-for-6 on two-point field goals, having missed at least 3 interior shots.
Illinois leads 15-11 at the under-8. The Illini do not score in that segment as turnovers became a problem (3 in those 4 minutes, 6 on the game thus far), as was some bad shot selection. Man, Michigan is getting a lot of open threes but the Wolverines can’t hit the broad side of the barn. Illinois should be up more if it was executing on offense, but Michigan is hanging around, despite not having a 2-point field goal and shooting 3-for-13 from three in the first 12 minutes. After a good opening 8 minutes, Illinois is starting to play a dangerous game here, not making a field goal in 5:40. Lavin makes the point that Illinois is following a recipe for a Big Ten road loss. Illinois is shooting 43% to Michigan’s 16%, but the Illini have 6 turnovers compared to just 1 for the Wolverines.
Illinois leads 23-13 at the under-4. Illinois’ 10-point lead is deceiving. The Illini aren’t playing that great (as evident by 8 turnovers) but Michigan has been brutal (going 3-for-15 from three and 4-for-25 from the field). The Wolverines have just one 2-point field goal thus far. Still, despite a mini 6-0 spurt and its largest lead of the night, Illinois is failing to put away Michigan, which is still in the game.
Illinois leads 26-18 at the break. You’re always happy to be leading on the road, but you had the feeling Illinois should have been up more considering just how bad Michigan shot the ball. Had an uneasy feeling heading into the second half of this game. Lavin hit it on the head, saying the Illini have a “hangover from the Purdue game.”
Well, Michigan comes out with the expected energy at the start of the second half and go on a 7-0 run to cut the game to 26-25 with 17:19 to go, forcing an Illinois timeout. The Illini look a bit slow defensively and are certainly playing down to the competition. With that said, Michigan has come out with some pep in its step. We’ve got a ballgame when Illinois should have a comfortable lead. Illinois 0-for-5 with 1 turnover in the first three minutes.
Michigan has its first lead since it was 3-2 at the under-16, now leading 27-26. Michigan is on a 9-0 run in the last 3:26 and the Illini are 0-for-7 from the field this half with 2 turnovers. Crisler Arena is never an easy place for the Illini to win, and the Michigan Maize Craze is now alive and well.
Illinois leads 34-30 at the under-12. The Illini aren’t playing great but have slightly righted the ship. Michigan had a 4-minute draught in that period, and Tisdale has been good for the Illini, which have been getting the ball on the interior. Illinois has a big advantage there and needs to keep feeding the post.
Illinois leads 41-33 at the under-8. The Illini have stepped up their defense, as Michigan has struggled to score in a while. Illinois has gotten some big buckets from McCamey and Davis. This isn’t pretty right now, but the Illini are up. This lead is hardly safe.
Illinois leads 44-38 at the under-4. Illinois should be up bigger but are killing themselves with some dumb turnovers (16 on the night). The Illini are lucky that Michigan has missed some easy buckets. Illinois’ defense has been good at times, and Michigan’s shooting has been equally bad. Michigan has had 6 draughts of 3 minutes or longer in the game. Paul was huge in that segment, but left a couple of points at the free throw line. Michigan is still alive, despite shooting 27% and 5-for-25 from three. The Wolverines only have 4 turnovers, with Illinois having 4 times as many giveaways. Michigan ball out of the break, following another Illini turnover.
Weber takes a timeout at 2:14, with Illinois up 44-40. Illinois’ offense has been too much stall as of late and not enough motion but rather a 2-on-5 McCamey and Tisdale pick and pop show. Illinois gets a terrible shot out of the timeout with Richardson throwing up a heave with the shot clock down; luckily, Tisdale tracks down the board and finds McCamey, who hits Davis for a lob dunk and 46-40 lead with 1:52 left.
Illinois wins 51-44, hitting some late free throws to extend the lead. The Illini survived another uneven performance and 17 turnovers thanks in large part to Michigan going cold all night long. Harris missed three chippie layups in the second half that were huge in the game’s final outcome. Illinois’ offense was hardly crisp, but it was good enough when it needed to pull out the ugly but must-have victory. Thank goodness Michigan was 6-for-31 from three and 16-for-66 from the field.
Overall: Illinois wins ugly, 51-44. The Illini certainly weren’t good, with nearly 20 turnovers and just a 37.3% clip from the field, but Michigan was just awful shooting the ball. Michigan was 2-for-14 from three in the second half and 19.4% from behind the arc on the games. The Wolverines were only 24.6% from the field but still in the game because of Illinois turnovers and an inability to put the game away. Illinois got lucky to pull this game out, but its effect would be felt days later against Minnesota.
Player of the Game: I’ll go with Tisdale, who finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds. He hit some big shots early in the second half to keep the Illini in front when Michigan surged out of halftime, and then did a good job all night defensively of sliding his feet and using his length at the rim to bother shots. His late offensive rebound led to the play of the game.
Play of the Game: With Illinois up 44-40 with 2 minutes to go, Tisdale secured a long offensive board off a desperation Richardson three as the horn expired. Tisdale then got the ball to a cutting McCamey, who hit Davis for a lob dunk and insurmountable 6-point lead.
Some Things I Liked:
● Illinois won a must-win game on the road. Besides that, this game was ugly.
● Illinois did have a 50-35 advantage on the boards.
Some Things I Disliked:
● Too many turnovers.
● Playing down to the competition.
● Let a frigid Michigan team hang in all night when this could have been a double-digit victory if Illinois took care of the ball and executed.
I couldn’t find YouTube highlights for this game, so I’ll leave you with this.
Well, that’s it for another Illini Tale of the Tape.
Up next, the game that cost us the NCAA Tournament: Minnesota at Illinois.
Topics: Assembly Hall, Bill Cole, Brandon Paul, Bruce Weber, Crisler Arena, D.J. Richardson, Demetri McCamey, Deshawn Sims, Dominique Keller, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Jeff Jordan, John Beilein, Kaval Lucas-Perry, Manny Harris, Michigan Basketball, Michigan Wolverines, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Stu Douglass, Tyler Griffey, U-of-I Basketball, University Of Illinois, Zack Novak