CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team dropped its fourth conference game to Illinois this afternoon (Saturday, Jan. 31) at Assembly Hall by a score of 67-52. A key in the game was Michigan's shooting struggles as the team went just 18-for-51 (.353) from the field and 13-for-22 (.591) from the line. Senior forward Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington D.C./New Hampton Prep, N.H.) had an impressive overall game, however, scoring 14 points and coming down with six boards. His performance was rounded out with three assists and three steals.
Sophomore guard Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS) was the only other player to score in double digits for the Wolverines, putting up 12 points and coming down with nine rebounds. Freshman forward Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) played a season-high 21 minutes and had an impressive game, contributed six points, all coming via the slam dunk.
The first half began with Illinois jumping on top 5-0, but the Wolverines (12-5, 3-4 Big Ten) were quick to respond. Freshman forward Courtney Sims (Roslindale, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) got off to a good start, taking a feed from Abram to the basket with an electrifying slam to put Michigan within one. After Illinois established the early lead, Michigan fought back to tighten the score. With 11 minutes remaining in the half, the Wolverines were down 14-13 after a quick jumper by Robinson.
The Fighting Illini responded by putting distance between the scores, throwing nine points on the board against Michigan's three. The Wolverines showed life with 7:44 left in the half, going on a five-minute, 9-3 run to bring Michigan with three points of Illinois, 26-23.
Though the Wolverines would not get the lead throughout the half, they were able to keep the score tight thanks to good defense and consistent scoring. The Maize and Blue continued to play strong throughout the half, but free throw and three-point shooting proved to be a problem. The Wolverines missed all seven three-point attempts, while the Illini were able to hit five triples. U-M also went just 7-for-13 from the line, and the six missed attempts proved to be a key factor in the half as the two teams went into the locker rooms with the Illini up 31-25.
The second half did not show much promise for Michigan as Illinois picked up its scoring where it left off. The Illini went to work maintaining their lead, going on a 13-3 run for a 48-35 lead with 9:37 remaining in the contest. Michigan showed signs of a comeback, making an attempt to get back in the thick of things with the help of Robinson, who hit back-to-back hoops for a quick five points.
But Illinois was not giving Michigan a window of opportunity to come back, as the Illini stayed on target with their shots. The Wolverines continued to have trouble with three-point attempts, going just 3-for-19 (.158) for the contest against the Illini's 10-for-27 (.370). Turnovers also proved troublesome with Michigan's rushed shots contributing to 18 turnovers against Illinois' nine. Because of problems setting up the offense, the Wolverines could not get anything going.
With Illinois leading 50-44 and 6:16 left in regulation, the Illini put the game away. They rattled off a quick seven points for their biggest lead of the afternoon (57-44). Abram responded by hitting two free throws and a triple, but it was too little too late for the Wolverines.
Michigan will have six days off before taking on Purdue Saturday (Feb. 7) at Crisler Arena. The ESPN-Plus game is scheduled for a 12:17 p.m. tipoff.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423
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