ANN ARBOR, Mich. — This one was close, until it wasn't.
With just over 14 minutes to play in Thursday’s contest at Crisler Arena, Illinois was hanging on by a thread to a one-point lead following a Michigan 7-0 run. How did the visitors respond? A 17-2 run over the next six minutes.
The run kept Illinois up somewhat comfortably the rest of the way, to eventually end up winning a road game in conference play 88-73.
Illinois came in to this one following arguably its worst performance of the season in the loss to Maryland. Michigan was coming off a comeback home win over Ohio State that broke a five-game losing streak.
After giving up the first bucket of the contest, the Illini (13-5, 4-2 Big Ten) went on a 9-0 run to give them a lead they wouldn’t lose the rest of the way.
It was not easy to shake Michigan (7-11, 2-5 Big Ten), who kept it within single digits for about three-fourths of the game.
Wolverine offense was generated mostly from Tennessee transfer Olivier Nkamhoua, Dug McDaniel and Tarris Reed Jr., who combined for 50 of the 73 total points.
Their efforts kept the home team right with Illinois, who saw bounce-back performances from Coleman Hawkins and Quincy Guerrier (15 combined points vs. Maryland). Hawkins was the only scorer in the game to have double-digit points into halftime with 10.
In the second half, after Michigan had gone on the 7-0 run to cut an eight-point Illinois lead to one, the visitors could not have responded better.
Illinois’ 17-2 run followed, propelling the orange and blue to a 16-point lead — its biggest of the game. The score had been within single digits the whole way up to this point.
Justin Harmon was a big spark of the run, starting it with an and-one layup off an out-of-bounds play. The Utah Valley transfer scored five of the first nine points during the stretch.
Michigan would not go away without a fight though, as the home team would make it within nine points four separate times. Illinois showed poise and fought off each comeback attempt to earn the win.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
MORETTI RETURNS: Illinois point guard Niccolo Moretti returned the action in Thursday’s game. He scored a singular bucket in six minutes played.
The redshirt freshman had been out with a foot injury sustained in the win over Southern Nov. 19.
HAWKINS AND GUERRIER: In the loss to Maryland this past Sunday, Coleman Hawkins and Quincy Guerrier each had games to forget about. The two combined for a measly 15 points and only one made three-pointer. They responded very nicely.
In just the first half, they combined for 19 points and three made three pointers.
Hawkins would end up finishing with 21 points and three-made threes, while Guerrier ended with a 16 point, 14 rebound double-double. Good for Guerrier’s sixth double-double of the season.
SECOND-HALF EFFICIENCY: Illinois was lights out shooting wise in the second half, logging in at 51.7% from the field. Michigan shot it a clip of 45.2%.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Col3man from NBA range.
- Illinois has won seven in a row against Michigan. (Juwan Howard has lost all seven.)
- In the all-time series, Illinois now leads 94-85.
- At Crisler Arena, the Illini improved to 33-52.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Orange Krush made the trip to Ann Arbor for this one.
Illinois returns to State Farm Center on Sunday to take on a team its already beat heavily this season in Rutgers.
Tipoff against the Scarlet Knights will be at 12 p.m. and televised on BTN.