CHAMPAIGN — Michigan couldn’t hold on to the ball or
put it in the basket on Saturday, but it could sure grab it off of
Despite their offensive struggles, the Wolverines came out with
one of their best rebounding efforts of the season against a very
good rebounding team. Illinois came into the game ranked second in
the conference in both total rebounds and rebounding margin, but
was out-boarded by Michigan 41-24.
Michigan was able to penetrate in the early going, causing
problems for Illinois in the interior. Although Michigan
didn’t hit a 3-pointer in the first half, it kept the game
close into the second half.
“We always want to take it to the hoop more, and we were
able to do that in the first half and get them in foul
trouble,” senior forward Bernard Robinson said.
Michigan showed its tenacity and did an excellent job fighting
for rebounds and boxing out. Before Saturday, the Wolverines had
taken an edge on the glass in just two of their six conference
games. They pulled down 15 offensive rebounds on Saturday, while
holding the Fighting Illini to just three. But Michigan could not
take advantage because of its poor shooting from all over the floor
and its turnovers.
“We did a pretty good job rebounding,” said Lester
Abram, who tied a career-high with nine rebounds and fought for the
ball at times with as many as three Fighting Illini. “But you
cannot just rely on rebounding — you have to put the ball in
the hole sometimes.”
Hunter Out Again: After coming back from knee surgery,
sophomore forward Chris Hunter suffered another setback on Friday
when junior forward J.C. Mathis accidentally broke Hunter’s
nose in practice. Hunter did not make the trip to Illinois and a
timetable has not yet been set for his return. But the coaching
staff is hopeful that the Gary, Ind., native will make a quick
“I talked to (Hunter) last night, and it sounds like
everything is in good shape,” Amaker said.
Hunter has played in just eight games this season, starting in
five. He is averaging 4.1 points and 2.7 rebounds a game.
High Flying: After finding himself out of the lineup for
most of the year, Brent Petway is now getting more and more time on
the floor. The freshman played 21 minutes, his highest of the
season, and scored six points on Saturday.
His electrifying dunks seemed to be the only way the Wolverines
gained any momentum. The team started to believe it could come back
after his dunk with 6:51 remaining cut the Fighting Illini lead to
six. Petway also used his leaping ability to finish second on the
team with six rebounds.
Notes: Members of the “Orange Krush,” the
Illinois student section, lined up outside of Assembly Hall in
frigid temperatures hours before the game to assure themselves
courtside seats. The section recently had to tone down its cheers
after being reprimanded by the Big Ten for taunting individual
players . . . Michigan has now lost six straight at Assembly Hall.
The last time the Wolverines won in Champaign was in 1995 . . . The
last time Michigan beat Illinois was in 2000 at Crisler Arena in
double-overtime . . . Michigan is now 1-5 against teams with an RPI
above 50 . . . After playing four of its last five on the road,
Michigan will now play five of its next seven at home. The
Wolverines have just two road wins this season.