CHAMPAIGN, Ill. C The University of Michigan basketball team ran into a tough Illinois squad Saturday (Jan. 12), losing 94-70. For Michigan (6-7, 2-2 Big Ten), the loss was its second straight in Big Ten Conference play after winning its first two, while the Illini (No. 9 AP, No. 10 ESPN/USA Today) rebounded from a loss to Purdue and improved to 13-4 and 2-2 with its 26th straight win in Assembly Hall.
The Wolverines were led by LaVell Blanchard's (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS) 17 points and Gavin Groninger's (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield HS) 12-point performance. Mike Gotfredson (Grosse Pointe, Mich./South HS) chipped in three three-pointers for a career-high nine points. However, the Illini received a game-high 20 points from Brian Cook and a 19-point, nine-rebound effort from Robert Archibald.
After controlling the tipoff, Illinois established a quick 8-0 lead punctuated by a wide-open Cook dunk and an Archibald turnaround jumper in the post over Blanchard. Michigan's first baskets came on the individual efforts of Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]), who scored his second basket of the game with 16:45 left on the clock to cut the Illini lead in half, 8-4.
Avery Queen (Moreno Valley, Calif./Redemption Christian Academy [N.Y.]) was able to connect on two of three free throws at 15:53 to cut the Illinois lead to 10-6 after being fouled by Corey Bradford from behind the three-point line.
An acrobatic layup by Williams was answered by Blanchard's first bucket to keep the Wolverine deficit to four. However, Queen's and Blanchard's misses allowed Illinois to establish an 18-8 lead with 12:34 left in the half.
Early 3-of-12 shooting and tough defensive rebounding by Illinois kept Michigan's offense at bay throughout the first 10 minutes, allowing the Illini to establish a 24-10 advantage at 10:06 in the half on the momentum of a 14-2 run.
A long two from Blanchard gave Michigan its first points in nearly two minutes, but he was called for a foul on Illinois' next possession, allowing Archibald to make the score 28-14. Michigan could not whittle down its deficit, however, as Frank Williams' three at 7:46 erased Groninger's first trey of the game a moment before.
Sean Harrington and Nick Smith hit consecutive baskets for a 7-0 run to bring the score to 35-17. Leon Jones' (Battle Creek, Mich./Winchendon Prep [Mass.]) bucket at 6:14 was the Wolverines' first points in nearly a minute and a half.
Rotolu Adebiyi (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron HS) gave the Maize and Blue a quick boost with the first Big Ten bucket of his career at 3:36 to make the score 38-21. Williams tossed in a three to put his team up by 20 with less than two minutes left in the half. A Gotfredson trey -- his first conference points -- at 34 seconds and two Herb Gibson (Taylor, Mich./Truman HS) free throws ended scoring, as Michigan went into the half trailing 45-26.
Illinois began the second half the way it played in the first with a long two by Archibald to extend the score to 47-26 just 27 seconds into the half.
Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS) converted his second offensive rebound into his first points of the afternoon to make the score 47-30 at 18:43. At 18:14, Gotfredson connected on his second three-pointer, making it 50-33.
Gotfredson ended a 6-0 Illinois run with his third three of the game at 15:01. Blanchard's fadeaway from 12 feet at 10:32 followed up a Young jumper inside to end another Illinois run, 65-43, however the Illini punctuated the afternoon with an athletic alley-oop to freshman Luther Head at the midway point of the half.
Michigan began a small rally with Gibson's block on Bradford's three-point attempt at 8:14. Gibson recovered the ball, setting up a Blanchard three-pointer at 8:05. Blanchard finished a Robinson miss on the Wolverines' next possession to make the score 75-55.
Young's basket at 2:48 finished a 10-3 Illini run over five minutes that put the Wolverines behind by 25 points. The two teams swapped treys, with Groninger putting away his second of the afternoon to make the score 89-63.
Adebiyi's three-point play and another Groninger three in the waning moments of the game pushed the Wolverines to the 70-point mark, however two Illinois free throws closed the scoring, 94-70.
The Wolverines continue their Big Ten slate against Northwestern on Wednesday (Jan. 16) in Crisler Arena. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. (a change from the originally scheduled 6 p.m.).
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423