Recap, box score: Short-handed Michigan falls at Illinois 68-53

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Recap, box score: Short-handed Michigan falls at Illinois 68-53

Article written by:Anthony BroomeAnthony Broome

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(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Michigan basketball fell to 7-7 (1-3 B1G) on Friday night in a road loss at No. 25 Illinois (13-3, 6-0 B1G) by a score of 68-53. The game was the Wolverines’ first in 11 days due to a COVID outbreak within the program.

Senior point guard DeVante’ Jones led the Wolverines with 17 points on the night. He was the only Michigan player to score in double figures.

Michigan was without sophomore center Hunter Dickinson and senior forward Brandon Johns on Friday night. The explanation given by a spokesperson said it had to do with return to competition conditioning after dealing with COVID-19. That left Michigan with freshman Moussa Diabate and graduate senior walk-on Jaron Faulds as the two available centers.

The Wolverines’ starting lineup had Jones and Eli Brooks at guard, freshman Caleb Houstan at small forward, sophomore Terrance Williams at power forward and Diabate at center. The start was the first of Williams’ career.

First half

The short-handed Wolverines were led by four early points from Diabate and a jumper from Williams. Solid defense kept them knotted up with the Illini at 6-6 at the under-16 timeout of the first half. A pair of jumpers from Brooks tied the game at 10-10 at the 11:53 mark. Offense was tough to come by in the early stages of the game with both teams combining to shoot 8-for-27 (29.6 percent) at the under-12 break.

A 12-3 Illinois run would follow as the home team would take a 22-13 lead at the 5:33 mark. It felt like this might be where water started to find its level, but Michigan would not go away. Jones scored the last nine points of the half for the Wolverines, who went into the locker room down 26-22 after the first 20 minutes of play.

The blueprint was what it needed to be in the first half. Juwan Howard’s team was diving for loose balls and playing with good energy. It also received quality minutes from sophomore forward Jace Howard, who did not score but was plus-6 in nine minutes off the bench.

Michigan finished the first half of basketball shooting 9-for-32 (28%) from the floor. Limiting first-half turnovers (five) and winning the offensive rebounding battle (8-to-4) helped kept the Illini in check. Illinois’ 26-points scored were its lowest total in a half this season.

Second half

Michigan continued to hang tough to start the second half. A three-pointer from Jacob Grandison and an and-one layup from Kofi Cockburn extended Illinois lead to 32-24 at the 17:58 mark. Layups from Diabate and Houstan helped the Wolverines trim things back to four points at 32-28 just over a minute later.

The Illini pulled away a bit in the next four minutes of play. The lead got up to 10 points at 39-29 with 14:11 to go and Illinois would hold on to 41-33 advantage at the under-12 timeout.

The next four-minute stretch was another gut check for the Wolverines. Down, 43-35, Michigan went on a 6-0 run to get things back to within two at the 8:57 mark. A free throw from Brooks and layup from freshman guard Kobe Bufkin got the deficit to within one, as Michigan trailed 45-44 with 7:27 to play. It would be the closest the game was the rest of the way.

Of course, the Illini fired back with a 7-0 run of its own. This would extend the lead over Michigan back to eight at 52-44 with 5:36 to play. Trent Frazier and his team would take over the rest of the way, eventually stretching the lead as far as 15 points at 66-51 with 1:17 left in the game. That is the deficit it would end at, as the score read 68-53 at the final buzzer.

Michigan basketball vs. Illinois final box score

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