Michigan and Illinois both started strong, each team making its first three shots and U-M making its first four, but only one – the Illini – showed up on the defensive end, leading to an 85-69 blowout win.
Even then, U-M shot 52.9 percent and 50 percent from three-point range, but was out of it five minutes into the second half.
The Illini went to Leron Black early and he scored inside and out, making three of his four shots in the first four minutes on his way to 10 total points. U-M sophomore Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s drive and finish tied the game at 15:30, at which point both teams were shooting over 80 percent.
The Wolverines didn’t shoot a three-pointer until 13:21, when Abdur-Rahkman tied it at 15 with a make; meanwhile, the Wolverines continued to struggle on defense. The junior guard hit another one at 11:30 and U-M was still down 19-18 despite making eight of 10 field goals. Illinois was at 75 percent, having gone 9-for-12.
U-M, meanwhile, fouled five times in the first 10 minutes. Maverick Morgan, a surprise starter, scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes, his jumper putting the Illini up 23-18 at 10:00.
The Wolverines battled back to tie it at 25 on a tough, drive and finish by senior Derrick Walton Jr., and-one, and took the lead when Walton drove again and found D.J. Wilson underneath.
U-M big man Moritz Wagner, however, struggled at both ends. He gave up four points inside and Illinois went on a 7-0 run to take a 32-27 lead before senior Zak Irvin stopped the bleeding with a jumper.
Walton scored five in a row to make it 34-32. At that point there had been eight ties and five lead changes. The game changed when Walton was called for sketchy offensive foul at 3:21 and picked up a technical foul, as well, at 34-all to give him two fouls on one play and send him to the bench.
Illinois used it as fuel and went on a 17-2 run to end the half.
The Wolverines missed the front ends of two one and ones and fell behind 40-34 at 2:30. Wagner picked up an offensive foul at 2:11, and Illinois expanded its lead to 43-34 when Jalen Coleman-Lands hit a three. He hit another one to make it 46-34 before Wilson finally countered with two free throws.
Big man Michael Finke hit a contested three at 35 seconds, giving the Illini a 17-0 edge off the bench and a 49-36 edge at the break.
Michigan only managed six rebounds, and no offensive boards in the first half. Wilson scored 12, Abdur-Rahkman 10 and Walton eight in the stanza.
Michigan started 0-for-2 from the floor and fell behind by 15 before Wagner finally hit a three at 18:35, his first points of the game. Three free throws from Wagner and a steal by Wilson, finish by Irvin brought it back to nine at 17:21.
Illinois called timeout and scored seven straight, including a three by Coleman-Lands, to stretch the lead back to 16.
At 12:05, Illinois was shooting 88 percent from the floor in the second half and opened a 67-48 lead when U-M opened four-for-11 from the floor.
Mike Finke made it 70-50 at 10;45 with a long three from the corner, and that was about all she wrote. The Wolverines never challenged again.
Wilson led the Wolverines with 19 points, while Abdur-Rahkman added 14, Walton 11.