Basketball faces quick turnaround

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Online Poster

By Lisa Koulias

Nothing is easy for this No. 1 Illinois team. As the Illini continue their undefeated streak, more teams see them as a target and can’t wait to be the first team to knock them off Cloud Nine.

Not only do the Illini have to be on top of their game all the time but playing two games in three days doesn’t help.

The Illini (23-0, 9-0) travel north to Michigan to play the Wolverines (12-11, 3-6) at 6 tonight.

“The turnaround is tough to deal with, but you’re going to have to do this in the NCAA tournament,” said Illinois head coach Bruce Weber. “The difference is, we have to go to classes (Monday) and fly up there. It’s a challenge.”

Weber isn’t worried about his team’s energy though, especially after Illinois’ game on Sunday. The Illini beat Indiana, 60-47, but the 60 points is the lowest final score all season. Weber said he thinks the team will be prepared, and then looks forward to a break until Saturday’s home game against Wisconsin.

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    “When you’re disappointed in your performance, you tend to come ready to play the next time,” Weber said after Sunday’s game. “I hope that happens. And if we can survive it, we have a nice little break before the Wisconsin game.”

    Michigan, who has lost its last six games, has had its fair share of off-the-court issues this season. Junior guard Dan Horton was suspended from the team on Jan. 25, after he was charged with domestic violence. Horton averages 13.6 points a game in the Big Ten.

    In addition to missing Horton, the Wolverines have been plagued by injuries this season as well. Eight Michigan players have missed 59 games due to injury. Horton, who is also on the injury list, has missed an additional four games for his suspension.

    Although Michigan is having issues both on and off the court, Weber expects this team will come out with a lot of fire.

    “I know this team is fighting for its life,” Weber said. “And what better medicine than beating the top team.”

    Series standing

    Illinois comes into tonight’s game with a 77-67 advantage over the Wolverines, but Michigan leads in games played in Ann Arbor, 43-27. The Illini have won nine in a row against Michigan and 12 of the last 13 meetings.

    The Illini came out on top in both meetings between the teams last year.

    Winning with Weber

    Coach Weber enters tonight’s game against Michigan in search of his 50th win as Illinois’ coach. In his second year at Illinois, Weber holds a record of 49-7. A win would make Weber the fastest coach to reach 50 wins in Illinois history. The record is held by Ralph Jones, who won his 50th victory in his 64th game.

    Tonight is Weber’s 57th game with the Illini.