No. 7 Michigan Starts Slow, Tops Illinois 71-58
By Larry Lage
Trey Burke had 26 points and eight assists to help No. 7 Michigan bounce back from a slow start to beat Illinois 71-58 Sunday.
The Wolverines (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten) shook off a sluggish first half with a strong second half to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month.
The Fighting Illini (20-9, 7-8) had won five straight, a streak that started Feb. 7 by beating top-ranked Indiana.
Michigan played for the first time in a week and looked rusty and sloppy early, turning the ball over the missing open shots. Illinois led by as much as eight points in the first half and didn't trail until Tim Hardaway Jr. had a three-point play with 3:30 to go.
Brandon Paul scored all 10 of points in the first half to help the Illini lead 31-28 at halftime. Paul didn't attempt a shot in the second half.
The Wolverines opened the second half with a 15-3 run, going ahead for good on Burke's 3-pointer with 16:49 left to play and had a nine-point lead with his two free throws that put him over the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Burke joined Phil Hubbard, Mike McGee, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Louis Bullock and Manny Harris as the sophomores who have reached the milestone at Michigan. Cazzie Russell, Bill Buntin, Rudy Tomjanovich and Henry Wilmore had 1,000 points in their second seasons after they were ineligible to play as freshmen.
Hardaway Jr. scored 13 and Glen Robinson III had 10 points. Freshman Nik Stauskas, who was averaging 12-plus points, missed all five of his shots and was held scoreless for the second time this season. Fellow freshman guard Caris LeVert took advantage of his opportunity to play more, scoring eight points, one shy of his career high.
D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams each scored 10 points for the Illini.
Tyler Griffey's second 3-pointer pulled Illinois within four points with 7:55 left, then Burke made a couple assists and shots within the next 4 minutes to put Michigan ahead 64-49.
Burke helped the Wolverines close the game strong after starting they looked lackluster following their layoff.
Michigan plays Wednesday night at Penn State before hosting rival Michigan State next Sunday in a rematch after losing to the Spartans by 23 points earlier this month.