No. 4 Illinois Routs No. 2 Michigan 76-53 as Ayo Dosunmu Sits with Injury

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 3, 2021

Illinois guard Andre Curbelo (5) chases a loose ball as Da'Monte Williams (20) defends Michigan guard Chaundee Brown (15)in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

No. 4 Illinois has snapped No. 2 Michigan's winning streak at seven.

The Fighting Illini, who have now won 10 of their last 11 outings, defeated Michigan 76-53 in Ann Arbor on Tuesday.

 

Trent Frazier dropped 22 points for Illinois, which moves to 19-6 on the season and 15-4 in Big Ten play.

For the Wolverines (18-2, 13-2), Eli Brooks notched 11 points. 

  

Notable Performers

  • Trent Frazier, Illinois: 22 PTS, 4 REB, 2 STL
  • Andre Curbelo, Illinois: 17 PTS, 6 REB
  • Kofi Cockburn, Illinois: 12 PTS, 7 REB
  • Eli Brooks, Michigan:  11 PTS, 2 STL

No Ayo Against No. 2? No Problem.

Everything could have changed for Illinois when their leading scorer, Ayo Dosunmu, went down with a facial injury against Michigan State last week. 

Instead, they've been thriving. 

In place of Dosunmu, who averaged 21 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the Illini's first 22 outings, Da'Monte Williams has gotten the start at guard, having returned to the starting lineup after playing off the bench since Jan. 19. Guard Andre Curbelo has stepped up to provide scoring depth on the bench, with 27 points over the past two games heading into Tuesday. Kofi Cockburn—who leads the team in boards—led the offense in both outings. 

Dosunmu was considered day-to-day leading up to Tuesday's tip. He didn't end up taking the court, but the Illini managed—as has become the norm.

In the first half, the team took a 33-22 lead—off a 14-8 run—at the break.

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Curbelo tacked on 11 points on 55.6 percent shooting, adding four rebounds to lead all scorers. 

By the end of the night, the scoring had spread throughout the lineup. Trent Frazier, who only grabbed six points in the first half, ended the night as the game's leading scorer with 22 points.

Curbelo tallied six more points to end with 17, while Cockburn came alive in the second half to finish with 12. 

In a preview of what could wind up being the Big Ten championship game, the win gives Illinois major momentum entering the Big Ten tournament and looking ahead to March. 

   

Michigan Just Can't Match Illinois

Where the Illini have largely relied on the major contributions from Dosunmu this season, the Wolverines' strength has come from balanced scoring. Freshman star Hunter Dickinson leads the team with an average of 14.8 points per game, while Isaiah Livers is close behind with 14.5 points. 

Franz Wagner has also stepped up as of late, setting or tying his season high in three of the last four games for the Wolverines, bringing his average to 13.3 points per game.

The scoring was certainly balanced in the first half, but not as they would have liked.

With Wagner and Dickinson in foul trouble, it was up to Livers and Eli Brooks, who posted five points each. Austin Davis was there with four points, but the Wolverines were no match for an Illini group that ran out to an 11-point advantage at the break.

The Illini defense limited the group to just one bucket from deep and a total of 32.1 percent shooting from the field in first 20 minutes. 

The Wolverines lost terribly to their opponent on the glass, giving up 42 rebounds and while only grabbing 26 boards. It was costly as the Illini tallied 22 second-chance points.

It took until 4:08 remaining in the game for any Michigan player to record more than 10 points. Brooks ended the night with 11 points. 

Davis tallied nine points to help pace the Wolverines. 

The loss is a blow to Michigan's near-perfect season, and it could make them vulnerable when a resurgent Michigan State squad comes to town at the end of the week to close the season ahead of the Big Ten tournament, where it's incredibly likely that a championship game could end up being a rematch of Tuesday's affair. 

   

What's Next? 

Illinois will head to Columbus to face No. 7 Ohio State in the final game of the season Saturday. 

Michigan will play Michigan State on Thursday and Sunday to finish the year before the Big Ten tournament.