I was really hoping that the Illini would pull this one out, and thanks to a strong first half that saw them head to the locker room with a three-point lead, I thought they just might. But there's just something about second halves in the state of Michigan that don't go well for the Illini.
Against Michigan State they blew a 10-point lead and allowed 53 points in the last 20 minutes. Today it was only a three-point lead, but the results weren't much different as the Wolverines outscored the Illini 43-27 in the second half.
It was a lackluster second half to say the least. The Illini stopped rebounding and began hemorrhaging turnovers with no attempt to stop the bleeding. When it was all said and done the Illini would have only 13 turnovers, which wasn't much more than Michigan's 10, but there was another huge difference.
What they did with them.
Michigan finished the afternoon with 27 points off of turnovers, the Illini had nine. That's a 16-point difference, and, well, that 16 points mattered quite a bit.
Still, as nice as winning this game would have been, the loss really doesn't mean anything. Sure, we're much more likely to be an 8-seed now but as long as we win one of our final three games -- I'd say Senior Night against Nebraska is the best bet -- we're going to the dance.
And that's all that matters to me.
-- If you were hoping that his performance against Penn State was an indication that Brandon Paul was coming out of his funk well this afternoon took a dump all over you. Brandon finished with 10 points, but he completely disappeared in the second half and was responsible for four of our 13 turnovers.
-- At least Tyler Griffey found his shot again. Tyler had missed his last eight three-point attempts before missing his first one this afternoon. He then hit two of his next three to finish the day with 9 points and 2 rebounds. His defense left a bit to be desired guarding Michigan's high screen sets, but you can live with that when he's making his shots and spreading the floor on the offensive end.
-- Nnanna Egwu had a nice first half, so why did we seemingly abandon him in the second half? I mean, he's not a low-post threat you can count on game in and game out, but he was playing well enough in the first twenty minutes to make you think you'd run more sets for him in the second half than we did.
-- May want to rethink the whole "Myke Henry has a green light" approach that John Groce seems to have right now. He took a couple of really bad shots in the second half that led to easy Michigan points and helped take us out of this game.
eFG% - 48.0%
Points per possession - 0.91
Turnover rate - 20.4%
OR% - 24.1%
Free throw rate - 27.5%
eFG% - 57.1%
Points per possession - 1.12
Turnover rate - 15.9%
Free throw rate - 42.9%
Now compare those numbers to what they looked like at halftime and you can see how badly things went in the second half.