CHICAGO, Ill. -- Game one, check. Michigan is over its first hurdle of the Big Ten tournament breezing past Illinois 73-55 led by a combined 47-points from the trio of Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
The Wolverines and Illini exchanged runs early in the first half before Michigan (16-15, 8-10) broke the game wide open with a 23-4 finish to the first half to hold a 40-23 advantage after 20 minutes.
In the second half, Michigan’s lead would balloon to as many as 24-points with a large chunk of the damage coming from Irvin, Dawkins and Abdur-Rahkman.
The three Wolverines nearly outscored Illinois (19-13, 9-9) themselves with Irvin emerging as a key playmaker, finishing with 14-points to go with six assists and six rebounds.
Dawkins led Michigan with 18-points while Abdur-Rahkman added 15-points to go with eight rebounds, leading the Wolverines in that category.
Illinois shot just 37-percent from the field including a 1-for-13 mark on three-point attempts. The Illini were led by 13-points from Malcolm Hill, holding key senior Rayvonte Rice to just 10-points and nine rebounds.
Michigan drew first blood in this one with a 14-2 run to start the game triggered by a quick five-point outburst from Abdur-Rahkman, forcing a timeout from Illinois’ John Groce just over five minutes in.
Illinois responded with a run of its own as Leron Black scored six-points over the next five minutes, enough for the Illini to tie the score at 17.
From there, Michigan would outscore Illinois 23-6 over the final eight minutes starting with a lay-in by Abdur-Rahkman. Dawkins scored eight points in that stretch including two three-pointers and a highlight reel alley oop courtesy of Irvin.
Opening the second half on an 8-2 run, Michigan opened up a 48-25 advantage less than four minutes in culminating in yet another Illinois timeout after Spike Albrecht found Dawkins with an over the shoulder, no look pass for a two-handed dunk.
With the win Michigan advances to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament and will face Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2) Friday at noon eastern time.