Thursday, January 10, 2019

Green's five takeaways from No. 2 Michigan's 79-69 win at Illinois

Photo Credit: Michael Hickey- Getty Images
By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

The No. 2 Michigan Wolverines moved to 16-0 for the third time in program history with a 79-69 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (4-12, 0-5 Big Ten) in Champaign. Here are my five takeaways from the State Farm Center.

1) Balanced Wolverine scoring:

- The element of what makes Michigan a tough out on any given night is that any of its starting five players can strike.

Thursday night proved to be no different as each Wolverine starter finished in double figures scoring (Zavier Simpson 16, Ignas Brazdeikis 15, Charles Matthews 14, Jon Teske 13 and Jordan Poole 10).

Free-throw shooting played a major key in the scoring as Michigan got to the foul line and made 18 of 22 attempts compared to Illinois going 4-of-7.

“They got to the foul line a lot. Most of the guys who were in double figures shot about five more free throws. We got to keep them out of the paint and they were aggressive and hunted down shots,” Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu said.

2) The Teske effect:

- With a team full of athletes who can play at any position on the floor, center Jon Teske has posed arguably the greatest effect at 7-foot-1. His versatile skillset was on full display with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and four assists.

Teske stretched Illinois’ defense and kept them on high alert all night long and gave credit to the Michigan scout team in preparation for Illinois’ quick guards in practice during the week.

“Jaaron [Simmons} and others on the scout team got us prepared,” Teske said. “Because of how fast [Illinois] plays, it is hard to update things. They did a great job this past week and have grasped the concepts as the season has gone along, which has made us better.”

3) Uncharacteristic Wolverine discipline in the first half:

- The Wolverines came into Thursday’s game with 9.2 turnovers per 40 minutes, but looked nothing like themselves with 11 first half turnovers. The second half proved to be a reemergence as Michigan committed three errors as they looked crisp in transition on offense.

Michigan coach John Beilein credited his players on being able to play more free-flowing in the final 20 minutes to keep Illinois on its toes.

“Despite those 11 turnovers in the first half, we were able to have a halftime lead and we were a much better team in the second half,” Beilein said.

4) The Dosunmu show and collapse:

- Ayo Dosunmu finished in double figures for the fourth straight game with a game-high 23 points, on 10-of-16 from the field. The majority of Dosunmu’s points came on looks to the basket.

However, the second half proved to be the polar opposite as Michigan’s defense made the adjustments and limited Dosunmu’s path to the paint as he had four points, on 2-of-6 from the field.

“The flow of the first half was so different because of the turnovers we had,” Beilein said. “It is really hard to get into lanes and [Ayo] is a problem when he gets into lanes. We didn’t turn it over in the second half and made some shots, which allowed us to set our defense better.”

5) Close, but no Illini cigar:

- The Fighting Illini managed to pull the deficit to within single digits on multiple occasions, but could not get over the hump as the Wolverines led wire-to-wire.

Giorgi Bezhanishvili refused to give up on the season and will look to play his part in Illinois getting over the hump down the line.

“We have to keep going as a group and have to keep working and fighting because we have us,” “Everyone has each other’s back and we have to grow from this, Bezhanishvili said.