ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Dee Brown made sure No. 1 Illinois
survived a scare.
Brown turned three straight steals into baskets, including the
go-ahead three-point play, and scored 16 points to keep the Illini
undefeated with a 57-51 victory over Michigan on Tuesday night.
"That was the difference-maker in the game, no doubt about
it," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.
Illinois (24-0, 10-0 Big Ten) overcame a total collapse on
offense -- going nearly 12 minutes without a field goal -- and an
eight-point deficit early in the second half to become the nation's
only undefeated team. Previously unbeaten Boston College lost 68-65
at Notre Dame just minutes before the Illini finished off the
"It's a good feeling, but there's a bigger target on us now,"
Dion Harris had 21 points and seven rebounds for Michigan, while
Courtney Sims scored 15 points and Chris Hunter had 10. The
Wolverines (12-12, 3-7) have lost seven straight, their longest
losing streak since the 1999-2000 season.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker was not satisfied with keeping it
close against Illinois.
"It's still a loss," he said. "We're still disappointed. It's
obvious our kids played their hearts out."
Brown took over when Michigan was clinging to a 39-35 lead
midway through the second half.
His three steals in just over a minute led to three baskets,
including the three-point play that gave Illinois the lead for good
with 7:54 left. Brown finished with four steals and four assists.
"He's electrifying," Amaker said. "He ignites their team and
he does it in so many ways. He made everything happen."
Illinois, held to its lowest point total this season, proved
again it can win without playing its best.
Two weeks ago, the Illini overcame an eight-point deficit in the
second half to beat Wisconsin 75-65 one game after Iowa pushed them
to overtime before losing 73-68.
"We've won a couple this year ugly," Brown said. "You just
can't beat everyone by 20 or 15."
Early in the game, it looked like Illinois was going to win
another game easily.
The Illini led by as many as 10 points and were ahead 23-15 with
8:47 left in the first half.
Then they went on a stunning drought, going almost 12 minutes
without a field goal and scoring only one point. When they finally
made a shot a few minutes into the second half, they trailed by
"If you guard, you always have a chance," Weber said.
Brown's steals-and-layups flurry started a 14-3 run, which put
the Illini ahead 49-42 with just under 4 minutes to go. Brown's two
free throws, the final two points of the game, sealed the victory
with 6.2 seconds left.
"I just tried to make plays," he said.
The game turned out to be much different than expected. The
Illini were favored by 15 points against a reeling team that had
lost its previous three games by an average of 24 points.
The Illini, who had won their previous games by an average of
18.2 points, led by 10 twice midway through the first half before
their outside shots were suddenly bouncing on and off the rims and
Michigan was beating them to loose balls.
The Wolverines closed the first half with a 13-1 run for a 28-24
lead. It was just the second time Illinois started the second half
"To Tommy's credit, he found a way to get his guys motivated,"
Daniel Horton, Michigan's standout point guard, missed his fifth
straight game since being indefinitely suspended following a charge
of domestic violence. Horton is scheduled for a pretrial hearing