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Friday, March 11, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Michigan 60, Illinois 55

By Scott Powers



INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s a quick look at Michigan’s 60-55 win over Illinois in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday.

How the game was won: Michigan trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half before coming on in the last eight minutes. Michigan’s offense ignited, and Illinois’ offense disappeared when the game mattered most. The Wolverines outscored Illinois 21-4 in the final 8:09.

Turning point:Down 51-39 in the second half, Michigan was on the verge of being run out of the building. But then Evan Smotrycz gave the Wolverines life with a 3-pointer with 8:09 left. Darius Morris followed with a layup. Smotrycz drained another 3-pointer. Morris added two more baskets, and the game was tied with 3:31 left. Shortly later, Tim Hardaway Jr. made a 3-pointer to put Michigan ahead 56-53.

Stat of the game: Illinois shot 8 of 24 from the field in the second half.

Player of the game:Hardaway Jr. came through in the clutch. He scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half.

Illinois player of the game: Brandon Paul’s defense was stellar. He had five steals to go along with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.

What the game means: The win should put Michigan into the NCAA tournament, and the loss will have Illinois sweating for a second consecutive selection on Sunday. Michigan’s comeback was impressive, but so was Illinois’ collapse.