Feb. 12, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) shoots the ball over Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul (3) in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

GBMWolverine: Michigan Basketball -- Illinois at Michigan -- Wolverines Beat Illini 70-61 -- Wrap-up

Posted at 6:00am — 2/13/2012

GBMWolverine: Michigan Basketball — Illinois at Michigan — Wolverines Beat Illini 70-61 — Wrap-up

Both teams needed a win on CBS’s prelude to the finale of the Pebble Beach Tournament. Illinois needed the win in a more desperate fashion, but the final 70-61 result put the win in the Wolverine column. For the Illini, the bubble is fast approaching and by the time Michigan returns the game in Champaign.

The keys to the game given in the preview were thus: (1) Michigan needed to neutralize the big size advantage inside at the start of the game. This did not happen, but Leonard, as did Morgan, quickly picked up two fouls. So, the refs provided the neutralization Michigan needed. Neither big guy ever got into the flow enough to factor big, but both made necessary contributions in limited time. (2) Morgan needed to keep out of foul trouble, that did not happen, see point number one above. (3) Michigan could run and did, mostly on Illinois turnovers, not from defensive rebounding. The result swung the game Michigan’s way. (4) Keep Paul from having a monster game, especially early. This goal was accomplished, even though Paul scored 21 points, he did not take over until late when he hit some high difficulty launches.

It was a good team effort as four Wolverines hit double figures. Good passing and knowledge of how to run the offense the way Coach Beilein intended was obvious. With few exceptions, every possession was about getting the best option.

Illinois came out with the intent to ram the ball down Michigan’s throat, and the Illini did just that. But the early advantage was neutralized by two fouls on Leonard and the guards did not get into a synch. Illinois had tons of second chance points and until late did not take advantage of the huge offensive rebound advantage of 14-3. There were plenty of good looks from 15 feet in, but little was falling for Illinois.

On the offensive end Michigan constantly used dribble-drive penetration and got Illinois chasing on the baseline. The result was good looks for threes or cuts to the basket past off balance defenders. The bench deserves a big Hoorah with 21 points and a few key three pointers. Vogrich continues to give Coach Beilein a message by hitting more shots, but his defense was not near as impressive.

Novak saved the bacon being the only Wolverine who successfully rebounded. Where would Michigan be without his nine rebounds? On the losing end is the answer. Bigger guys still do not rebound for Michigan and it is near amazing that Michigan could win a game giving up 14 offensive boards. The equalizer was that Illinois frequently got nothing out of second and third chance attempts.

The defense got beat on some inside cuts but overall the effort was decent. A couple of Michigan’s players are still lazy on defense, thinking about offense in spare time. There is not one outstanding defensive player on the team, excepting that some may argue Novak. His grit just finds a way to get it done. He makes the play time and time again.

Michigan did a nice but not perfect job at the foul line for the end game. Illinois applied more pressure as the game went on and most of the time Michigan got the ball over the top avoiding turnovers.

There were moments Michigan did not show smarts. Morgan continues to pick up ridiculous fouls. And Smotzy gets lazy leading to more troubles. At the start of the game four or five unforced turnovers provided Illinois with a chance to gain a big lead. Fortunately only a few Illinois shots went in during this stretch.

Next up is Ohio State, a team with much greater size, talent, and physical athletes. Michigan will need to play its best defense to have a chance. This is the way to cause Ohio State to avoid blowout wins. Michigan will also need to have all shooters in a zone. On defense the Wolverines will do what is possible against Sullinger, but must not let the athletic perimeter shooters have an easy time.

Video Highlights:
Michigan students line up outside Crisler

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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