U-M Falls To Illlini

It was the Battle for the Big Ten Lead, and it was nip and tuck all the way, but Illinois slipped by Michigan Saturday afternoon in Crisler Arena, 82-79.

Both teams were scorching hot in the first half, shooting over 50%, with Michigan taking a 46-44 lead into the break. Senior forward LaVell Blanchard hit four first-half three-pointers and scored sixeen first-half points overall, and freshman guard Lester Abram added sixteen as well.

Illinois came out hot in the second half to go ahead 53-49. But then Blanchard hit three more three-point shots and junior forward Bernard Robinson added a fourth, and at the 9:30 mark Michigan led 69-64. The Illinois got hot again and with 4:20 left led 75-70. Once again Michigan made a run, this time led by two three-point-plays by freshman center Chris Hunter, to take a 76-75 lead with 1:58 left. But by this time Illinois was double-teaming Blanchard and no one else on Michigan could pick up the scoring slack -- Illinois scored the next seven points and won it 82-79.

Blanchard led Michigan with 26 points and seven rebounds, but other than Abram in the first half, no one else on Michigan really had the scoring touch. Abram's 16 first-half points were second for Michigan in scoring overall. Freshman point guard Daniel Horton had twelve points on 4-17 shooting, and frosh center Graham Brown added ten points and nine rebounds.

With the loss Michigan falls to 9-5 in the Big Ten with two regular season games left, Wednesday at Penn State and next Saturday against Purdue. The Wolverines are a game off the conference lead now, with Illinois and Wisconsin both having four losses.

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