There’s gritty Big Ten games, and then there’s whatever that was at State Farm Center on Friday night.
The result of neither team finding an offensive rhythm? A combined 44-of-107 from the field and 7-of-30 from deep, but it was the Illini that edged out the Wolverines in Champaign, 68-53.
Michigan entered the contest with an already depleted frontcourt. Both Hunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns Jr. sat out of the matchup because neither were in game shape after a COVID-19 pause within the Wolverines’ program, so at least Michigan had an excuse for its poor play.
The Illini on the other hand have played three games in 2022 already, two of which were road wins. Yet Michigan’s wing pressure was largely effective in pestering Illinois’ guards and as a result, limited Kofi Cockburn’s touches down low.
It was the Wolverines that were the aggressors on the other end of the floor too. It wasn’t pretty, but Juwan Howard’s squad kept the game close much of the night because it refused to shy away from contact, crashed the boards and wasn’t afraid to get on the floor for loose balls — an area Brad Underwood’s program prides itself in.
But when it’s going good, it’s going great.
Illinois is off to its best conference start since 2005 with an unblemished 6-0 record and have won 20 of its last 21 Big Ten games including last year’s Big Ten Tournament.
And although the first 30 minutes of basketball wasn’t worth the price of admission, Trent Frazier made the final quarter much more entertaining.
In the final six minutes of the game, Frazier: scored 13 of his 18 points on the night, assisted on a pair of triples — one of which was a beautiful crosscourt dime that can be found below and closed the door on the Wolverines by himself, 68-53.
- Kofi Cockburn (ILL): 21 PTS, 8-13 FG, 10 REB
- Alfonso Plummer (ILL): 15 PTS, 3 REB
- Trent Frazier (ILL): 18 PTS, 7 AST, 3 REB
- DeVante’ Jones (UM): 17 PTS, 6 REB
- Moussa Diabate (UM): 9 PTS, 6 REB
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
File this one under “Return To Sender.”
TWEET OF THE GAME
Illinois has THREE starters wearing headbands? Michigan doesn’t stand a chance— Mariah Guzman (@MariahLGuzman) January 15, 2022
The Big Ten slate doesn’t get any easier. The Illini play host to the No. 7 Purdue Boilermakers on Monday morning. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. CT (yes, a.m.) and can be seen on FOX.