The Michigan offense left Champaign at half time. Michigan only made 6 field goals in the second half and Manny made 5 of them. Illinois held Michigan to only 20 points on 20.7% shooting in the second half. Grady, Novak, and Lucas-Perry finished the first half with 5 points each, they combined for only 2 points total in the second half.
In many ways the game was similar to the first meeting between these two teams:
- The road team held the halftime lead but the home team won it down the stretch on the defensive side of the ball.
- The winning team had a guy who hit three 3-point shots in the first half to keep his team afloat (McCamey/Novak).
- A tall unathletic big man took over the game in the second half (Tisdale/Gibson).
- The home team shot and made a lot more free throws.
- Both teams turned the ball over the same number of times.
- Both home teams were missing their students due to winter break.
Michigan fans looking to point fingers have to look no further than DeShawn Sims. The 6-foot-8 big man was not himself tonight and looked sluggish from the get-go. Sims was held to 3-14 shooting for 7 points and didn’t bring the effort and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. Illinois big man Mike Tisdale posted 24 points on 10-12 shooting and dominated the game in the second. Sims missed tons of easy looks deep in the lane and also refused to drive the ball on slower Tisdale. I would have liked to see a little more Zack Gibson down the stretch but this team really needs production from Sims night in and night out.
Michigan lost this game by letting Illinois get to the free throw line and by not being able to buy a basket. Their shooting was dreadful with an effective field goal percentage of 38.1%, Michigan’s lowest eFG% all year. Illinois usually struggles to get to the line, their free throw rate of 23.8 ranks 343rd (2nd to last) in the NCAA. On the other side Michigan doesn’t let opponents get to the line, their defensive free throw rate of just 23.8 ranks 8th nationally. Illinois posted a free throw rate of 47.8 tonight compared to 4.8 when these teams played just 10 days ago.
This one stings because Michigan was in the game for the first half and Assembly Hall appeared to be pretty tame without students. At the end of the day there is no shame in losing this game, Illinois is a very good team that will be dancing in March. They are 14-2 with an RPI in the top 20 and have quality wins at Purdue and Missouri. They play lock-down defense (top 15 per Pomeroy) and will beat a lot of teams in Assembly Hall this year. Saturday night’s game against Ohio State is a big one. This team has played well coming off of a loss and they can’t afford to lose to a struggling Ohio State team at home.
- Manny Harris: In the live blog a lot of people were saying that Manny struggled (and he certainly has for stretches this Big Ten season), isn’t that good, is overrated, and whatever else. Manny scored 20 points on 7-13 (3-5 3pt) shooting with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 turnovers while the rest of the team combined for 12 field goals all night. Yes, he took a couple questionable shots and yes he turned it over a few times but I’ll take this effort from Manny any time, especially when the rest of the team is limping behind him.
- DeShawn Sims: See above, simply not good enough.
- Zack Novak: Zack hasn’t been getting a ton of open looks but he is doing enough to deserve his minutes. Novak posted a game high 9 rebounds to go along with 5 points on 2-4 shooting in 33 minutes.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: LLP had a rough day shooting the ball, he was 2-7 (1-4 3pt) for 7 points with 1 assist and 3 turnovers. I think you have to remember that this is only his 7th game this year.
- Zack Gibson: Zack Gibson loves playing against Illinois. In only 9 minutes (really?) Gibson scored 4 points (2-4) and pulled down 2 offensive boards to go along with 2 steals.
- Kelvin Grady: This is the case with most everyone besides Manny Harris, a great first half (5 points) and nothing in the second.
- Dave Merritt: Just not a threat to score, I think he played a few too many minutes but the box score says he only played 10.Â Dave is just not a threat to score the ball and opposing defenses know it.
- CJ Lee: Always hustling CJ posted 5 rebounds and played 14 minutes.
- Stu Douglass: It was good to see Stu hit a three in the first half but he missed a really deep (25 foot+) three pointer in the second that he shouldn’t be taking. Stu really can pass the ball and even though he’s going through a bit of a funk you can see what Beilein likes in him. Right now it’s all about teaching Stu the right pass and the right shot.
- Jevohn Shepherd: I just don’t see how Jevohn is the answer to any questions… This team is going to win games by out scoring people. Shep isn’t going to help us score points and he isn’t 7 foot. Shepherd is more athletic than Novak but he has only pulled down more than 3 rebounds twice this year (4 each time). Novak is averaging 6.75 rebounds per game in conference play and grabbed 9 tonight against a team with two guys 6-foot-10 or taller.