EditorsNote: adds to second graf
Zavier Simpson led a well-balanced attack with a season-high 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds, and No. 2 Michigan equaled the best start in the program’s history with a 79-69 win over Illinois on Thursday night in Champaign, Ill.
Michigan (16-0, 5-0 Big Ten) tied the 2012-13 team by winning its first 16 games. The Wolverines have won 30 of their past 31 games — the only exception being a defeat to Villanova in the 2018 national championship game.
All five Wolverines starters reached double figures. Freshman Ignas Brazdeikis had 15 points and eight rebounds, Charles Matthews scored 14 points, and Jon Teske racked up 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks. Jordan Poole added 10 points for the Wolverines, who outscored Illinois 18-4 at the free-throw line.
Ayo Dosunmu led the Illini (4-12, 0-5) with 23 points and seven rebounds. Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 15 points, and Trent Frazier chipped in 13.
The last place Illini actually outshot the Wolverines, making 47.5 percent of their field-goal attempts compared to Michigan’s 45.2 percent. But the Wolverines controlled the boards 38-30 and never trailed.
The Wolverines led 39-34 at halftime. Illinois hung around thanks to 14 Michigan turnovers, which it converted into 15 points. The Wolverines gave the ball away just three times after intermission.
Michigan scored the game’s first eight points. The Illini recovered to twice get within three on a pair of Dosunmu layups. After the latter, the Wolverines scored the next six points, including a pair of Teske buckets, to make it 28-19 with 6:31 before the break.
Poole soon had a personal 5-0 run to make it 36-25. The lead was still 11 before Dosunmu fired in back-to-back 3-pointers to give Illinois some momentum heading into the second half.
A Frazier 3-pointer early in the second half cut Michigan’s lead to four, but the Wolverines responded with a Teske trey and a Simpson layup.
A Teske three-point play nudged the lead to 10. Matthews dunked twice during a 44-second span midway through the half to give the Wolverines a 57-46 lead.
Brazdeikis’ layup off an Illinois turnover put Michigan up by 12. When Illinois crept within seven, Simpson nailed a 3-pointer.
Matthews had another dunk with 1:14 remaining to push the lead to 12.
—Field Level Media