LIVE! Michigan

LIVE! Michigan

CHAMPAIGN — Ayo Dosunmu had 23 points and seven rebounds, leading Illinois in both categories, but the Illini lost 79-69 to No. 2 Michigan at State Farm Center. Giorgi Bezhanishvili had 15 points for Illinois, and Trent Frazier hit three three-pointers and finished with 13 points.

Five Michigan players scored in double figures led by Zavier Simpson with 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

Illinois (4-12, 0-5 Big Ten) will return to action Jan. 16 against Minnesota at State Farm Center.

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Michigan 55, Illinois 46 — 11:01 left in 2nd half

Ayo Dosunmu hasn't scored yet in the second half. Michigan switched Charles Matthews onto the Illini freshman after he went off for 19 points in the first half. Still, Dosunmu is leading the Illini in scoring ... and rebounding. He has six. 

Michigan's lead has fluctuated between two possessions and double figures throughout the half. The Illini haven't gotten closer than four.

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Michigan 39, Illinois 34 — Halftime

Ayo Dosunmu set his season (and career) scoring high early with 25 points in Illinois' loss to Georgetown on Nov. 13. He's well on his way to setting a new one tonight. The Illini freshman guard banked in a shot clock beating three-pointer at the end of the half to get to 19 points. So far. He's got the Illini on his back, but it's not a sustainable thing. 

Meanwhile, Illinois has forced 11 Michigan turnovers. The Wolverines' season high is 16 against South Carolina. The Illini also have an edge on points in the paint. However, Michigan is outrebounding Illinois 21-11 and is 10 of 13 at the free throw line compared to the Illini's 1 of 3. 

Still, there's Ayo. Maybe he'll single-handedly win the game for Illinois. The more likely scenario is Michigan takes advantage of an Illini offense that can't score unless it's Dosunmu and win its 16th straight game.

To the Twitter machine!

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Michigan 24, Illinois 19 — 7:45 left in 1st half

Michigan ranks fifth nationally in offensive turnover percentage, coughing it up on just 14 percent of its possessions so far this season. The Wolverines have struggled a bit more with ball security so far tonight against an Illinois defense that ranks ninth nationally in defensive turnover percentage. So far Michigan has committed seven turnovers ... that's a turnover in 29.2 percent of the Wolverines' possessions. Pretty good reason why the Illini are hanging in there. 

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Michigan 20, Illinois 13 — 11:38 left in 1st half

Isaiah Livers is, in fact, playing tonight for Michigan after missing the last two games with back spasms. It's been a good thing for the Wolverines. Livers is leading the weay with seven points so far, while Iggy Brazdeikis has six.

Giorgi Bezhanishvili also has six points to lead Illinois. The Illini are again making a point to work the ball inside, and while Bezhanishvili probably gives up a little strength to Jon Teske and Austin Davis he's been effective on the block. Nice little baby hook going.

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Michigan 11, Illinois 4 — 15:59 left in 1st half

Illinois has actually run a pair of successful lobs. Well, one true lob. The other one was a pseudo lob that was more of a really good post entry. Either way, two good plays that led to two buckets. But those are the Illini's only points. Illinois is shooting just 28.6 percent. That's ... not uncommon against this Michigan defense.

The Wolverines, meanwhile, are both knocking down three-pointers (Zavier Simpson of all people made one) and attacking the rim at will. They're making those shots, too, and also drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. Aaron Jordan already has two fouls for Illinois and heads to the bench.

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Illinois vs. No. 2 Michigan — 7 p.m,. FS1

The first time Brad Underwood coached against Michigan (the 2017 NCAA tournament with Oklahoma State) it was a sharp contrast in styles between the methodical Wolverines and uptempo Cowboys. Underwood didn't see nearly the difference between Michigan and Illinois heading into tonight's game.

"They are very, very opportunistic in transition," the Illini coach said. "That’s where they hurt us last year. We got a lead and then took a couple quick shots and a couple long rebounds and this team can really run. This group is probably better at it than any team they’ve had simply because they have multiple ball handlers. Really the only guy who doesn’t is (Jon) Teske.

"This is a pretty uptempo team. When they don’t have it they’re going to try to get to the third side and execute. I think we’re really similar in what we want to do. They’re just, right now, doing it a very, very high level."

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Illinois vs. No. 2 Michigan — 7 p.m., FS1

This is apparently still a thing in Ann Arbor. Maverick Morgan's legacy lives on.

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Illinois vs. No. 2 Michigan — 7 p.m., FS1

Here's some things you maybe don't need to know but will be better for knowing ...

— Illinois ranks 351st in the country in luck per KenPom, which puts the Illini third to last in the country. Yes, that's a thing. Luck is "the deviation in winning percentage between a team’s actual record and their expected record using the correlated gaussian method. (Click on the link to have that last thing explained).

— The Illini have lost their last 13 games to top 25 teams and they are 6-39 all time against top two teams. All six of those win happened right here in Champaign. The last, of course, came with Cody Zeller falling asleep on defense and Tyler Griffey hitting the buzzer beating layup to beat No. 1 Indiana on Feb. 7, 2013.

— Michigan guard Jordan Poole has scored in double figures in each of his last 10 games and is shooting 54.3 percent from three-point range in that span.

— Isaiah Livers has missed the last two games for the Wolverines with back spasms. The Michigan sixth man has been going through warmups tonight, but his status is still unclear.

— Michigan is relying heavily of late on Poole, Ignas Brazdeikis and Charles Matthews (who gave Illinois assistant coach Orlando Antigua a hug, reconnecting the former Kentucky player and Kentucky assistant). That trio is accounting for 65 percent of the Wolverines' points since Big Ten play restarted in the new year.

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Illinois vs. No. 2 Michigan — 7 p.m., FS1

Yes, there's a little extra hype to tonight's game given Michigan's status as the No. 2 team in the country. But the Illini are trying not to let that affect them too much.

"It’s definitely just a regular game," fifth-year center Adonis De La Rosa said. "We’ve got to compete as hard and stay true to who we are and just stick to the game plan. Just continue to be the best person you can be.

"Expectations are always high — to the top standard. That’s be great at what we do. If we can find who we are pretty soon here, I still feel we have a chance. If anybody can do it, we can do it."

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Good evening everybody. The LIVE! Report is back at State Farm Center for the first time in 2019, and the situation with Illinois men's basketball is both better and worse at the same time since the last one of these tipped off in Champaign. And, yes, it can be both at the same time.

Consider. Illinois' last home game was against Florida Atlantic and happened a week after a 16-point Braggin' Rights loss to Missouri. Merry Christmas, right? The Owls won in overtime, handing the Illini their worst loss in a decade. Attending that game was five-star center Kofi Cockburn.

Illinois has also lost to both Indiana and Northwestern since, dropping both Big Ten road games as the league restarted conference play. After that last loss, however, Cockburn committed. So Illini basketball is in a conflicted space. A big recruiting win for 2019, but four straight losses this season.

And the return home doesn't come with a freebie. Not by a long shot. Illinois' first Big Ten home game of the year comes against unbeaten No. 2 Michigan. Quite the welcome home for the Illini.

So that's the rundown of where Illinois basketball sits heading into tonight's 7 p.m. tip against the Wolverines. Will any of that change come the final buzzer? The odds are against the Illini, but that's why you play the game.

While you're waiting for tipoff, catch up on our Illini hoops coverage this week:

Starters, stats, storylines and our beat writer's pick

Cockburn's commitment sets new recruiting precedent

Frazier struggling with confidence

CHAMPAIGN — Maybe Trent Frazier just needed to talk it out. Unburden himself a little.

The Illinois sophomore held a rather frank discussion about his recent struggles after Wednesday's practice. The 6-foot-1 lefty guard is in the midst of a three-game slump, fighting mostly with his jump shot as the Illini (4-11, 0-4 Big Ten) prepare for today's 7 p.m. showdown with No. 2 Michigan (15-0, 4-0) at State Farm Center.

At the center of Frazier's struggles? Believe it or not, it's a confidence issue.

After carrying Illinois in a win against East Tennessee State and almost single-handedly keeping the Illini in the Braggin' Rights game before Missouri pulled away for a 16-point victory, Frazier's just 3 of 16 from three-point range the last three games and putting up approximately half his season scoring average.

"I think I've let those missed shots get to me," Frazier said. "It's not me just not shooting the ball. They've given me that green light to shoot the ball whenever I can and whenever I have an open look.

"I'm in my own head right now, and I'm letting those missed shots get to me. Me being a veteran, I can't let that happen. I have to get back to me being super aggressive. Get in that rhythm and get that flow going."

To continue reading, click here. Then keep checking IlliniHQ.com before, during and after tonight's game for more.

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