Illinois men’s basketball falls 75-55 to Michigan in Big Ten Tournament
The sound of the Illinois’ men’s basketball NCAA tournament bubble bursting rang through the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. after a 75-55 clubbing by Michigan.
With the team’s tournament hopes on the line, a flat Illini team came out of the gate ice-cold on both the offensive and defensive ends.
Despite all of the issues the Wolverines dealt with coming into the game, including their plane skidding off the runway only to fly out Thursday morning and not getting to the arena just hours before tip-off, the team looked solid early.
Michigan jumped out to a quick 13-point lead within the first ten minutes, while Illinois looked like the team that wasn’t prepared to play.
But Michigan didn’t stop there, as a three-minute dry spell for the Illini allowed the lead to balloon to as many as 20.
While it appeared the game was headed in a downward spiral for Illinois, sixth-year senior Tracy Abrams put the team on his back, leading the Illini on a personal 10-0 run, including a deep three and a three-point play to cap off his run.
Head coach John Groce pulled Abrams after he picked up his second foul, ending his run, from which Michigan soon recovered. Illinois came as close as seven points, but a late Michigan run stretched the lead to 11 going into the break.
The second half was more of the same on both ends of the court, with Illinois failing to get within single-digits for its entirety.
Abrams played possibly the best game of his college career, but his stellar performance went by the wayside with little help from his teammates. Abrams finished with 23 points and five rebounds to go along with two assists, but no other Illini scored in double digits.
Derrick Walton Jr. led the way for the Michigan attack with 19 points and five assists, while Zak Irvin and Abdur Rahkman chipped in 18 and 17 apiece.
The loss dropped the Illini to 18-14 on the season.