With the Big Ten Conference title race tightening every day, the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines could not afford a let down against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday. The Maize and Blue got off to a sluggish start, but pulled everything together defensively in the second half to hold off Illinois 71-58.
The Wolverines were dominated on the glass in the first half, which allowed the Fighting Illini's offense to thrive off of second-chance points. Illinois used its rebounding advantage to build a 31-28 halftime lead.
Sophomore point guard Trey Burke proved to be too much for the Fighting Illini to handle in the second half, though. Burke scored 26 points on eight-of-11 shooting and also dished out eight assists.
Junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and freshman small forward Glenn Robinson III combined for 23 points and 10 rebounds to help lead Michigan past Illinois.
The difference in the game, however, was the Wolverines' defensive effort in the final 20 minutes. Redshirt junior forward Jordan Morgan hauled in six rebounds, three of which were at the offensive end, and played outstanding defense.
Michigan held senior shooting guard Brandon Paul scoreless in the second half after 10 points in the opening frame.
The victory helps the Wolverines improve to 23-4 overall and 10-4 in Big Ten play, while the Fighting Illini drop to 20-9 and 7-8 in league games.