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Illinois exacts revenge for blowout loss with win at Michigan

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Fighting Illini Athletics

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — About a month after suffering the wake-up call of its season against Michigan, Illinois marched into the Crisler Center with a mission to right their past wrongs.

In a back-and-forth affair, Illinois topped Michigan, 77-64, on Wednesday night.

After leading by as many as 11 against No. 12 Ohio State last week, the Illini (10-10, 4-6 Big Ten) had their work cut out for them: get ahead and stay ahead.

Illinois controlled the pace of the game early on, especially on the offensive side of the ball, starting 7-of-7 from the field and 2-of-2 from deep.

By the first quarter’s under-five timeout, they’d already surpassed their 16-point first-half output from the last time these two met in December.

Outscoring them in every quarter but the fourth, the Orange and Blue would claim their revenge over the Maize and Blue (14-8, 5-5 Big Ten), earning a victory that brings them back to .500 on the season.

Despite leading scorer Genesis Bryant getting into foul trouble and scoring just seven points, Illinois would see its lead grow to as many as 18 and shrink to as few as one, but would hold onto the lead, staying ahead of the Wolverines until the final buzzer sounded.

Late in the game, Illinois’ experience would show. The Fighting Illini would launch the ball late in the shot clock and crash the glass, out-rebounding the Wolverines 33-23.

Camille Hobby continued her hot form with 12 of her 16 points coming in the first half.

She was quite possibly the biggest difference between the win on Wednesday and the Dec. 10 loss, when she played just six minutes and failed to find the bottom of the basket in the 36-point blowout.

In the previous five games heading into Wednesday, the fifth-year center averaged 14.4 points.

Senior guard Makira Cook had herself a night, too. She’s been known for her scoring volume in the past, but on Wednesday she showed shades of an efficient scorer, too. In her 20-point performance, she shot 8-for-12 and 2-for-3 from deep.

Let. Her. Cook.

More than halfway into the season, it feels like Shauna Green and her staff have figured things out. With Hobby back in the starting five alongside Kendall Bostic, a new-look Illinois is looking to sprint, not jog, to the end of the season.

The team opened their Big Ten campaign with the loss at home to Michigan. To Green and her Illini squad, that loss was a message that things had to change.

“When you score 48 points, 90 is like a million,” Green said, reflecting on the loss after her team’s win over Rutgers earlier this month. While Cook, Hobby and Adalia McKenzie didn’t combine for a million (they had 52 combined), this win had to feel good.

UP NEXT

Illinois will make its way to West Lafayette to take on Purdue next Monday, Feb 5. Tipoff at Mackey Arena will be at 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on the Big Ten Network.