Michigan basketball (14-3) defended their home court against Illinois (10-7) with a 79-69 win.
Illinois came into Crisler Arena with a different head coach than it did last season. New head man Brad Underwood has teams that are built on defensive pressure. Last year, when Underwood was at the helm of Oklahoma State, he met the Wolverines in the tournament. Although it wasn’t easy, Michigan was able to handle the pressure and get a 1-point win, 91-92.
This is not the team from last year, and it showed early, as the Wolverines extended their hot streak with strong play from Moe Wagner and a freshmen duo.
Illinois defensive pressure
From the tip, Illinois had the pressure turned up. In their very first possession, the Wolverines turned the ball over and Charles Matthews picked up a foul in transition.
That’s not exactly a great start.
And it didn’t stop from there.
Michigan had 12 turnovers in the first half, which is 2 more than their season average for whole games.
After halftime, the home team made obvious adjustments. Michigan ended the game with 15 turnovers, committing only 3 in the second half. Seeing this team be able to adjust and handle the pressure is encouraging as the season continues.
Jordan Poole & Isaiah Livers Run
“Basketball is a game of runs.”
And in the first half, the two freshman had a run all of their own.
In the first half, Michigan’s offense was totally disjointed. That is, until Isaiah Livers was finally put into the game at around the 9:00 mark, as he became Michigan’s leading scorer in only 4 minutes of game time.
The Wolverines looked to be in serious trouble, when the young guys went on a 12-2 run by themselves, capped off by this alley-oop from Poole to Livers:
Both Poole and Livers put on impressive performances
- Poole – 11 points (2-3), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals in 19 minutes
- Livers – 12 points (5-7) and 1 rebound in 18 minutes.
Zavier Simpson’s defense
There have been many games this year where Zavier Simpson has changed the momentum with a big defensive play. In this game, after Isaiah Livers’ first 3, Simpson picked up a charge on the other side of the floor.
These kinds of plays are extremely important in the grand scheme of a game, as they can drain momentum from your opposition and put it in your favor.
Plays like this one often go unnoticed, but are at least in part the reason that the sophomore has been re-inserted into the starting lineup:
Player of the Game – Moe Wagner
After an incredibly slow start from the big man, Wagner ended up being the Wolverines leading scorer with 14 points (6-7). To go along with his scoring contributions, Wagner added another team high 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Michigan’s leader really needed this game. Coming off his ankle injury, even Head Coach John Beilein recognized that Wagner hasn’t looked the same. Sometimes all it takes for extremely talented players is just to see the ball go in the bucket a couple of times. That seemed to be the case here, as he finished shooting 86 percent.
- Michigan had 6 players in double digits (Matthews, MAAR, Wagner, Robinson, Poole, Livers)
- The Wolverines shot 40 percent from beyond the arc as a team.
- Zavier Simpson, MAAR, and Jordan Poole each had 2 steals.
- 23 of Michigan’s 24 bench points came from Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers.
The full box score of the game can be found here.
Michigan basketball takes on the No. 13 Purdue Boilermakers (14-2) on Tuesday the 9th in Crisler Arena at 9:00 pm.