Big First Half Advances U-M to Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals

March 12, 2015

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Site: Chicago, Ill. (United Center)
Event: Big Ten Tournament (Second Round)
Score: Michigan 73, Illinois 55
Records: U-M (16-15), Illinois (19-13)
Next U-M Event: Friday, March 13 -- vs. Wisconsin - Big Ten Tournament (Chicago, Ill.), 11 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO, Ill. -- Using a key 7-0 spurt to help build a 17-point halftime lead, the No. 9-seeded University of Michigan men's basketball team pulled away from No. 8 seed Illinois in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to claim a 73-55 victory today (Thursday, March 12) at the United Center. The Wolverines advance to take on No. 1 seed Wisconsin in the quarterfinal round at 11 a.m. Friday on ESPN.

Four of the five Wolverines starters scored in double figures, led by freshman Aubrey Dawkins' 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and fellow freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's 15 points and career-best eight rebounds. Sophomore Zak Irvin had 14 points, six rebounds and a career-best six assists, while senior Max Bielfeldt made his second straight start and closed with 10 points and four rebounds. Junior Spike Albrecht was the lone starter not in double figures as he had eight points and five assists in 39 minutes.

In the opening session of the conference tournament's second day, Michigan and Illinois went scoreless over the first two minutes of play, as each team missed its first three shots. U-M cracked the scoring column first with a Dawkins back-door cutting layup from a Bielfeldt pass. After a returning Illini bucket from Ravonte Rice, the Wolverines went on an 7-0 run to lead 9-2 thanks to a triple from Irvin, a jumper just inside the arc from Dawkins, and a free throw line bucket from Abdur-Rahkman.

Following a media timeout, Abdur-Rahkman hit another jumper and three-pointer for a personal 5-0 run, extending U-M's lead to 14-2 and forcing Illinois coach John Groce to call a timeout. With Groce subbing in Leron Black, the Illini responded with a 9-0 run to cut U-M's lead to just three, 14-11, as the under-12 media timeout hit.

Illinois continued to chip away at U-M's lead, and a three-pointer from Malcolm Hill gave the Illini their first lead of the game, 15-14. With a follow-up three-pointer from Albrecht, U-M regained the lead and snapped a five-minute scoring drought.

With the game tied at 19-19, Irvin and Dawkins guided U-M to a 7-0 run highlighted by an alley-oop dunk from Irvin to Dawkins, forcing Illinois to call its second timeout of the half. With U-M holding an eight-point advantage, 29-21, Abdur-Rahkman drew a charge on a driving Black, who then was assessed a technical after the call. Albrecht drained both free throws and nailed a long-distance three as U-M extended its lead to 13, 34-21.

The Wolverines closed the half with a 6-2 run thanks to a bucket and pair of free throws from redshirt freshman Mark Donnal, giving U-M a 17-point lead, 40-23, at the break.

Opening the second half, U-M used a quick 8-2 run capped by a no-look, behind-the-head pass from Albrecht to Dawkins for the dunk to put U-M up 23, 48-25, as Illinois was forced to call a timeout. As the game settled in a groove, U-M maintained a 20-plus point advantage through the first eight minutes of the half.

Michigan was able to break Illinois' press and counter on the other end, keeping its comfortable lead at 64-44 as the third media timeout was called. With U-M up 16 with a minute remaining, coach John Beilein cleared his bench, as the Wolverines advanced to face the top-seeded and No. 6-ranked Badgers with the 73-55 victory.

Communications Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423


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