Michigan rebounded to post its first victory of the Big Ten season. U-M dropped its home opener against Wisconsin, 73-61, four days ago. Michigan is now 71-81 all-time against Illinois with a 47-27 advantage at home.
With today's win, Michigan posted its 11th win of the season, surpassing its win total of the entire 2007-08 season. The Wolverines closed 10-22 last season.
After trailing by one at halftime, 39-38, with Illinois shooting 58.6 percent from the floor, Michigan turned up the defense in the second stanza, holding the Fighting Illini to 25 second-half points and a 33.3 percentage from the field.
For the fifth time this season, Michigan hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game, closing with 11 today -- eight of which came in the first half. The Wolverines finished the game shooting 40.7 percent from the field (11-of-27).
Laval Lucas-Perry earned his first career start today after coming off the bench in his first four games since becoming eligible. Joining him in the starting five were David Merritt, Zack Novak, Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
For the second time this season, Michigan had five players score in double figures -- Manny Harris (16), DeShawn Sims (13), Laval Lucas-Perry (13), Zack Novak (11) and Zack Gibson (10). The last time U-M accomplished the feat was against Norfolk State on Nov. 25.
With his game-high 16 points, Manny Harris rebounded from a nine-point effort against Wisconsin. Harris has now scored in double figures in 12-of-14 games this season. It is also the 40th career game in double figures for the sophomore. He added six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Zack Novak made it back-to-back games scoring in double figures as a starter. He has five games overall in double-figure scoring this season. Novak finish 3-of-4 from long range, giving him eight triples in his last two games. Novak left the game midway through the second half after getting hit about the left eye. He received six stitches and returned to the game with five minutes remaining wearing No. 11.
DeShawn Sims scored 13 points to extend his double-figure scoring streak to 14 straight games. He nearly recorded his fifth double-double of the season with his nine rebounds. He is second on the Wolverines at 16.6 points per game and continues to lead the Big Ten with 8.8 boards per game.
DeShawn Sims drained a season-best three triples. In his last four games, Sims has gone 8-of-14 on triples -- a 57.1-percent clip.
With 13 points, Laval Lucas-Perry has now scored in double figures in all five games since becoming eligible following his transfer from Arizona. Along the way, he scored over nine of his points from long range, going 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Laval Lucas-Perry set a new career best with five assists. Prior to today's game, he had dished out a pair on three different occasions.
For just the second time this season, Zack Gibson scored in double figures. He closed the game 4-of-5 from the field, including two crowd-cheering dunks and a triple -- the first in his last seven attempts. Gibson's only other double-figure game was an 11-point effort in the season-opener against Michigan Tech.
Manny Harris has started all 46 games in his Michigan career. In addition, classmate Kelvin Grady came off the bench to play in his 46th straight contest for the Wolverines. Grady has 25 career starts.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On the game... "Starting off (Big Ten season) playing two really good teams on our home court -- and you all know the Big Ten better than I do -- I think I would be lying if I said there wasn't a lot of pressure to win that game. You have to hold court if you are going to end up having a good year. You have to hold court against the best teams in the league and Illinois obviously is. I'm pleased with the way we shored up our defense in the second half. That's two games in a row where we have given up 40 (points) in the first half. We just have to work it out, keep working at it and get better at that."
On the play of Zack Gibson... "That was huge. I watch him every day in practice and he is a better shooter than his stats would say. He's not Larry Bird, but he is quite a shooter if he gets enough time and space. He needed to hit one for us, 2-of-16 (on three pointers this season) or something like that. Then, obviously, with the big guy on him, he saw the driving opportunity."
On the locker room at halftime... "We had some guys talking at half time that were talking louder and more aggressive than they have in the past. That's really key for us that we continue to build leadership, not just our three seniors but everyone. I mentioned to the team, one of the biggest plays might have happened at halftime as DeShawn Sims really showed some great leadership. He wanted to win that ball game and his passion was terrific."
On the importance of winning at home... "You have to defend home court. It's so tough to win on the road. I didn't say 'you can't start out 0-2.' But I'm just saying, 'we have to do this.' It happens sometimes not because you are at home, but because you play at a higher intensity level. You are comfortable here and your crowd is tremendous. Twelve thousand on a Sunday afternoon without students; it was a stride in the right direction."
Sophomore Guard Manny Harris
On this game compared to Wisconsin... "He (Head Coach John Beilein) knew we had to be more aggressive as a team defensively and on offense with the drive and the kick. Sometimes I could drive to the basket and others I had the kick. I just had to pick my spots."
On the intensity level of the team... "It was high from start-to-finish. We were down by one at the half, but we did not let it get to us. We just stayed aggressive and finished. It would have been ugly starting the Big Ten season 0-2 and I was mad starting 0-1. We are now 1-1 and we want to get better."
Sophomore/freshman Guard Laval Lucas-Perry
On the win... "It was a great win, it feels great and it was my first big win at home. We played well and Coach Beilein had a lot of poise and confidence in us. At halftime, we picked it up and showed we could score and play defense."
On his first start... "I found out the day before the game I was going to start. I had a slow start, but coach (Beilein) tells us great shooters to just keep shooting. I stayed with it and they just started falling. Sometimes I had to use a pump fake to mix it up a little bit and find my teammates or drive to the hole."
On the team's start to the season... "This was just one game. We need to win the rest of our games to win the Big Ten title. I know we all want to win the Big Ten and I know Coach Beilein wants to win the Big Ten title."
Freshman Guard Zack Novak
On his injury... "It was a pretty big cut they said. I have six stitches and they (medical staff) did their best to get me back out there. It's not the first time I have had stitches. I've had them several times."
On the game... "Every game in the Big Ten is a must win with the league as good as it is this year. Every game you have to come in to play hard, especially when you are defending your home court."
On his start of the game... "My job is to hit the threes and my teammates are finding me open. They're driving the ball and I just move to the open spot. They find me and I knock them down."
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