Illinois Basketball: 4 observations from the Illini win over Michigan

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Illinois basketball

Jan 14, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Kobe Bufkin (2) drives the ball around Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) during the second half at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois basketball took on the Michigan Wolverines on Friday night in what ended up being a blowout on paper.

The Illini would end up winning the game by a score of 68-53, but this game was much closer than the score shows. Michigan would let the game slip away in the final few minutes, but the Wolverines did put up a tough battle.

Here are four observations from the Illinois basketball win over Michigan.

1. Great defensive performance

Coming into the Michigan game, the Illini were a good defensive team. They were only giving up 65 points per game, which ranked No. 61 in the country.

This ranking had improved over the last month, though. In the five games before the Michigan contest, Illinois had only given up 70 points one time and held their opponent to 64 points or less in the other four games.

On Friday night, the Illini continued that hot streak of defense. A short-handed Wolverines bunch was not ready for the type of defense Trent Frazier and Co. were going to bring to the game.

Illinois managed to only give up 53 points to Michigan on Friday night. This is Michigan’s second-lowest point total of the season, only second to the 21-point loss to North Carolina where they scored 51 points.

The Illini would hold the Wolverines to just 36.7% shooting from the field and 10% from three-point range. Yes, that isn’t a typo. Michigan was 1-of-10 from the three-point arc on the night. They also couldn’t get out of their own way, as they were just 57.1% from the free throw line.

I would imagine Michigan fans are going to say that they didn’t have Hunter Dickinson, so this result is bogus or something like that. Well, in the lone game last season that included Dickinson, do you know how many points the Wolverines scored? 53.

That is right, with or without Dickinson, Illinois has given up just 53 points in each game against Michigan the last two seasons. So, even when the big man is active, we just have the Wolverines’ number.

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