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Even without its best player, No. 4 Illinois cruised to a massive win over No. 2 Michigan on Tuesday in Ann Arbor.
The Illini — who were missing Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu — rolled past the Wolverines for a
dominant statement 76-53 win at the Crisler Center just days before the Big Ten tournament kicks off.
"I can't tell you the feeling that I'm feeling right now," Illinois guard Trent Frazier said, via 247's Derek Piper. "It's special. We're not done."
Illinois early run sets up huge win
Though it was a low-scoring first half — Michigan put up its lowest output of the season — Illinois used it to its advantage.
The Illini surged ahead of Michigan with a massive 13-4 run midway through the opening half while holding the Wolverines scoreless for more than four minutes. From that point on, the game was theirs.
Illinois pushed their lead to 11 points by halftime and had pushed that lead to 20 less than seven minutes into the second half. The Illini held Michigan to just seven points over a nearly 10-minute span in the second half, too, while easily securing the 23-point win.
Eli Brooks led Michigan with 11 points, though he was the only one on the team to score in double figures. Michigan had been on an impressive stretch headed into Tuesday night, too. The Wolverines had won five straight coming off a COVID-19 pause, which included huge wins over No. 25 Wisconsin, No. 7 Wisconsin and a 22-point win over No. 5 Iowa. The team that showed up on Tuesday night, though, looked nothing like the one from those previous five contests.
Frazier led Illinois with 22 points in the win. Andre Curbelo added 17 points off the bench, and Kofi Cockburn finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Dosunmu was still sidelined with a broken nose, something he suffered last month after taking a brutal shot to the face against Michigan State. Dosunmu, who is averaging 21 points and 6.3 rebounds for Illinois so far this season, is currently going through concussion protocol. It's unclear when he'll be able to return.
"We were coming in with a chip on our shoulder," Frazier said, via Piper. "We wanted to prove to everyone how hard we play... This is what we do. This is the culture that the coaching staff has created."
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