LIVE BLOG: FINAL - No. 21 Illinois 64, Michigan 62 - Dosunmu with 27 and the game-winner
Welcome to the Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor where Illinois (14-5, 6-2 in Big Ten Conference) will face Michigan (11-7, 2-5).
I'm currently on my way to Crisler Center, as we're still a few hours from the opening tip.
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Game 20: No. 21 Illinois at Michigan
Date/Time/Place: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020: 11 a.m. CST, Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Records: Illinois 14-5, 6-2 in Big Ten; 12-21, 7-13 in Big Ten Conference in 2018-19. Michigan 11-7, 2-5 in Big Ten; 30-7, 15-5 in Big Ten Conference in 2018-19.
Line: Michigan by 4
Series notes: Illinois leads the season series 88-85. The Illini are looking to snap a five-game skid in Ann Arbor spanning nearly 10 years. Illinois’ last victory at Crisler Center was a 51-44 victory on Feb. 23, 2010. Illinois’ 71-62 victory over No. 5 Michigan on Jan. 11 marked its first win over a top-5 team since toppling No. 1 Indiana on Feb. 7, 2013. The Illini have now recorded three victories over opponents ranked in the top 15 dating back to last January. Michigan holds a 52-28 record in Ann Arbor, with the Wolverines on a current five-game winning streak. U-M is 28-58 record in Champaign, as U-M has won five of the last eight games. U-M is 5-2 record in neutral site games -- with six games at the Big Ten Tournament and one in 1989 Final Four.
TV: FS1 – Jeff Levering (PBP), Len Elmore (Analyst)
Radio (Illinois): Brian Barnhart (PBP), Doug Altenberger (analyst) - The broadcast can be heard live on TuneIn online radio, Sirius/XM 381 and at FightingIllini.com.
Before every game of the 2019-20 season, we take a look at three things you’ll want to watch for after the tip.
1) Who takes over for suspended Alan Griffin?
After the Big Ten Conference announced Thursday night that sophomore guard Alan Griffin will be suspended two games by league officials, third-year Illini head coach Brad Underwood released a statement expressing his displeasure with the folks in the conference office. Underwood talked about the "next man up" cliche Friday with the media but the "next man up" may actually mean more minutes for the actual first man up - Da'Monte Williams and the Peoria native will need to overtake some of the offensive responsibilities that Griffin is able to handle. Williams, who is only averaging 2.5 points per game, has been solid on defense but in order for Illinois to win today, he won't be able to have his seventh straight contest without registering in the scoring column. In the win in Champaign, Michigan reeled off eight unanswered points to pull within four late in the second half, but a runner by Andres Feliz with 1:20 left stemmed the tide as the Illini finished off the win. Feliz will also be needed off the bench for the wing position left by Griffin's suspension.
2) Can Illinois' defense travel once again?
Illinois is second in the Big Ten in scoring defense during league play, allowing 61.0 ppg – ranking just one-tenth of a point behind Maryland’s defense (60.9 ppg). The Illini are second in field goal percentage defense (.385) and third in 3-point percentage defense (.288) in conference games. Illinois’ defense has allowed an average of just 60.9 points on 39.3% shooting and 30.8% from 3-point range over the last 11 games, helping the Illini to an 8-3 record during that stretch. Illinois is No. 10 in the nation in defensive free throw rate at 21.9% (FTA/FGA), a complete contrast from last season when the Illini defense ranked 338th out of 353 teams in that same category (42.4%). Illinois freshman center Kofi Cockburn has totaled 19 blocked shots in the last 10 games (1.9 bpg) after recording 10 blocks through his first nine games (1.1 bpg).
3) Zavier Simpson vs. Trent Frazier
In the matchup in Champaign, Simpson was held to just four points because Frazier was face-guarding him the entire evening. However, with Simpson you have to be aware of his passing more than his shooting. He leads the nation with 154 total assists and an 8.6 per game average -- a career-best average by a near +2.5. He is adding a career-best 12.6 points per game. In the game at Illinois, Michigan shot just 16.7 percent from long range going 3-for-18, however, Illinois did not fare any better shooting just 1-for-11 (9.1%) on 3-pointers. Simpson continues to be the main engine for U-M as he controls both Wolverines offense and defense. Simpson is posting 12.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game -- all near career-best paces. Simpson is 88 points away from 1,000 points (912). He has 10 double figures games with a season-high 22 points, twice -- Houston Baptist (Nov. 22) and Purdue (Jan. 9). Simpson leads the nation and the Big Ten with 8.6 assists per game.
Prediction: Michigan 75, Illinois 73
Uniform Update: Illinois appears to be going with the modern all-orange uniforms. The Illini are 3-1 in those uniforms this season.
Injury Update: Michigan forward Isaiah Livers went through warm-ups and will likely play for the first time since Dec. 21. Michigan has been 2-4 since he went down with a groin injury.
Lineup Update: No change for the Illinois lineup. Livers is in the starting lineup for Michigan.
UPDATE: I would say a lot of folks here at Crisler Arena are dressed up as empty seats tonight but...it is a Noon local time tip.
I have to assume a lot of people will arrive late and this place might fill up after the first media timeout or so.
MEDIA TIMEOUT - 15:42 left in 1st - Michigan 9, No. 21 Illinois 6 - Kofi Cockburn has started out 0 for 4 from the field and has picked up a foul. Michigan wants to get Wagner open from the outside and Giorgi is daring him to shoot it.
MEDIA TIMEOUT - 10:51 left in 1st - No. 21 Illinois 15, Michigan 12 - Trent Frazier has found his shooting form fast. The junior guard has made two 3-pointers on his way to eight early points. Michigan is 4 of 16 from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
MICHIGAN TIMEOUT - 7:56 left in 1st - No. 21 Illinois 22, Michigan 14 - Illinois go on a 7-2 run and Howard can't wait until the media timeout. The Illini defense traveled again. Michigan is 5 of 20 from the field. Dosunmu with game-high 10 already.
MEDIA TIMEOUT - 7:56 left in 1st - No. 21 Illinois 22, Michigan 14 - Illinois guard Trent Frazier picks up his second foul and will likely sit the rest of the first half. Dosunmu with game-high 12 already but Michigan has found some offensive rhythm.
HALFTIME - No. 21 Illinois 34, Michigan 30 - Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu has a game-high 16 points (his career high is 25) on 6 of 8 from the field. Illinois has to consider this a major win to be leading without anything from Cockburn or being able to play Frazier for the final 6:01 of this half. Michigan made its last six field-goal attempts to stay within striking distance.
MEDIA TIMEOUT - 15:34 left - No. 21 Illinois 43, Michigan 43 - Not much defense being played in this second half. Both teams have combined to make its last seven field-goal attempts. Cockburn with five early points but Frazier and Giorgi pick up third foul.
MEDIA TIMEOUT - 11:21 left - No. 21 Illinois 52, Michigan 47 - We've seen a little Ayo closer a little earlier than usual today (just four off his career high). Illinois is 7 of 11 from the field this half. Feliz has 11 points.
MEDIA TIMEOUT - 6:35 left - Michigan 55, No. 21 Illinois 54 - A Teske 3-pointer gives Michigan the lead back but Feliz has a chance to give Illini the advantage back at the foul line.
MEDIA TIMEOUT - 3:24 left - Michigan 60, No. 21 Illinois 58 - Simpson going to the line with a chance to extend Michigan's lead. Illini just 1 for its last 7 field goals and haven't scored in last 2:16.
ILLINI TIMEOUT - 1:37 left - Michigan 62, No. 21 Illinois 60 - Michigan has had FT opportunities to close this one out. I'll give you folks one guess who will have his hands on this basketball in this Illini possession.