Jon Cartu Reported: LIVE! No. 21 Illinois 64, Michigan 62 | Sports

LIVE! No. 21 Illinois 64, Michigan 62 | Sports

Jon Cartu Reported: LIVE! No. 21 Illinois 64, Michigan 62 | Sports

Things don’t change on the road — IlliniHQ.com is the place to be for all of your Illini hoops updates. Follow along right here throughout the game and then stick around for our comprehensive postgame coverage.

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A big part of Illinois’ Tuesday road win at Purdue was limiting the Boilermakers to 3 of 8 three-point shooting. It wasn’t the Boilermakers’ worst shooting performance percentage-wise, but for a home game that was significantly fewer attempts than they typically get up.

Michigan is going to want to shoot a bunch of threes, too. Just in a different way.

“Michigan plays with a different pace,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “Michigan’s a team that is electric in transition. We were very, very poor in the first game with them transition wise. They opened the game and their speed really hurt us. (Franz) Wagner in particular got out and got some good looks. We’ve got to be dialed in.”

Dialed in on shutting down Michigan on the perimeter.

“That’s a mindset we have every game is to make sure we challenge people at that line,” Underwood continued. “Obviously their strength is with Zavier (Simpson) and (Jon) Teske, yet they surround them with guys that are very capable three-point shooters.”

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Some notes and observations from Ann Arbor before tipoff …

— Alan Griffin did travel with Illinois despite serving the first game of his two-game suspension. Jacob Grandison is also here. Sit-out transfers typically don’t travel, although Austin Hutcherson (also sitting out) did make one road trip. If I recall correctly, he was at the Michigan State game. Will get clarification on how that works.

— Tevian Jones was the first Illinois player on the court today (side note, the Illini are wearing their new orange alternates). Brad Underwood said Jones would have the opportunity for a larger role today with Griffin out, but Jones also only played 40 seconds Tuesday at Purdue after Griffin was ejected.

— Michigan has three straight games. The last time the Wolverines were on a streak like that was the 2014-15 season.

— Isaiah Livers went through an individual workout before pregame warmups started and then joined his team for said warmups after getting a good stretch in. He’s missed the last six games with a groin injury. He probably(?) plays today.

— Illinois has the Big Ten’s longest active winning streak at five games and is off to its best start in conference play at 6-2 since 2006.

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Good morning from Ann Arbor! It was an early morning in Michigan for Illinois. Not able to get on the court at the Crisler Center upon their arrival yesterday because of Michigan hosting a gymnastics meet, the Illini got in a shootaround before dawn ahead of today’s game against the Wolverines.

It wasn’t a long workout. Just enough to work up a bit of a sweat and get a little familiar with the sight lines and rims. We’ll see if the early start helps or hinders Illinois come game time.

Kind of an important game today in Ann Arbor. Illinois, ranked No. 21 nationally, enters on a five-game winning streak and fresh off a road win Tuesday at Purdue. Another win away from home would not only give the Illini a Big Ten-leading third, but it would also make them the Big Ten leaders. Illinois currently shares the top spot in the conference with Michigan State. Beating Michigan would give the Illini a half-game lead in the standings.

A win today in Ann Arbor would also mean a sixth straight in Big Ten play. The last Illinois team to win that many conference games in a row wound up playing in the national championship game in the 2004-05 season. So there’s that.

Illinois will be without Alan Griffin, of course. The sophomore guard was suspended two games by the Big Ten for his (deserved) flagrant-2 ejection at Purdue. Whether a two-game rip was deserved? The’s been some debate on that point. Illini coach Brad Underwood has called it “excessive.”

It will be interesting to see if Griffin’s absence is an issue. Illinois beat Purdue by 17 with Griffin playing just 3 minutes before his ejection. He also went scoreless in 11 minutes in Illinois’ early December win against Michigan. Still, that was before his role increased and he had something of a breakout. 

Basically, we’ll all find out starting in an hour. Stay tuned.

Jonathan Cartu

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