Recap: Michigan vs. Illinois
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Jordan Morgan's layup with 7.9 seconds left helped eighth-ranked Michigan escape with a 64-63 win over Illinois in quarterfinal action of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nik Stauskas had 19 points and Glenn Robinson III added 15 with seven rebounds for top-seeded Michigan (24-7), which has won six in a row and will face No. 24 Ohio State in Saturday's semifinals.
"Well, we're thrilled to get that win because as you can see, as Illinois has shown in their last six games, how well the program has played after a tough January," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "So we had a lot of respect for them coming in. They proved how good they were, and, fortunately, we got some good bounces around the basket to finish the game."
Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice each had 11 points for ninth-seeded Illinois (19-14), which advanced to this game with a win over the No. 8 seed Indiana on Thursday. The Illini, who were vying for their first Big Ten title since 2005 and 13th semifinal appearance, fell for the just second time in their last seven games.
Both losses came against Michigan. The Wolverines cruised to an 84-53 win in Champaign on March 4, but this one wasn't quite as easy.
"Obviously we're disappointed," Illinois coach John Groce said. "That one stings a little bit. When you pour your heart and soul into something, you play as hard as our guys did today, I thought our effort was great, I thought our attitude was off the charts, and thought our execution for the most part was good."
After trailing by as many as 13, Illinois grabbed its first lead since the early stages when Rice's jumper made it 59-58 with 4:36 to play. Kendrick Nunn's reverse layup put the Illini up three, but Derrick Walton Jr tied it at 61-61 with a 3-pointer.
After Rice gave the Illini a two-point lead, Stauskas made 1-of-2 free throw attempts to trim the deficit to one with 55 seconds to play. Abrams missed a three at the other end, though, to give the ball back to Michigan with 19.1 ticks left.
Morgan made the most of the opportunity as he and Stauskas worked a perfect pick and roll to put the Wolverines ahead.
"Nik told me he was going to shoot it regardless, so I wasn't necessarily ready for the pass," Morgan said. "But I don't know, just watching the shot, there's been times in the past where they've passed that, and we weren't ready because they thought they were going to shoot. So just kind of watching the play, and then as far as catching it, I just put it on the rim and got a nice roll."
Abrams had a shot at the other end, but his floater in the lane was off the mark.
"I thought it was going to go in, and I thought we were going to win and I had the utmost confidence," Abrams said. "I wasn't shocked that we lost, but shocked the shot didn't go in. But it is what it is."
Michigan won the very first Big Ten Tournament title back in 1998, but later had it taken away due to NCAA sanctions. The Wolverines are just 10-14 all- time in the event, and that '98 appearance was the only time they reached the championship game.
After a fairly competitive first half Michigan started to pull away late in the stanza. Jon Ekey's triple drew the Illini even with 2:05 remaining in the half, but Caris LeVert netted five straight points to help the Wolverines carry a 38-33 edge into the locker room.
The Wolverines then stretched their lead to 13 with a 16-3 spurt that bridged the halves to give them a 49-36 advantage 4:37 into the second half.Game Notes
Illinois owns an 85-78 lead in the all-time series with Michigan, but the
Wolverines have won the last seven encounters overall ... Levert finished with
13 points, five rebounds and four assists ... Michigan was 10-of-30 on 3-point
attempts ... Nunn had 10 points for the Illini, while Nnanna Egwu pulled down
a team-high nine boards.