CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Trey Burke scored 19 points and No. 2 Michigan never trailed after the opening minutes of a 74-60 win Sunday over Illinois that could push the Wolverines to No. 1 in the nation for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
Duke’s lopsided loss to Miami earlier in the week opened the door for a new No. 1 when the AP poll comes out Monday — and Michigan put itself in position to take the top spot.
Nick Stauskas scored 14 points for the Wolverines (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten). Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 12 each.
Brandon Paul led Illinois (15-6, 2-5) with 15 points but had five of Illinois’ 15 costly turnovers.
Michigan forward Jordan Morgan did not return after leaving early with a sprained right ankle, but the Wolverines hardly missed him.
On Sunday, Michigan always seemed to have an answer.
Illinois fought back to within seven points with just over nine minutes to play when a Richardson steal set up Joseph Bertrand for a soft jump shot that floated into the bucket.
The wave of noise that rose from the crowd trying to will the Illini back into the game didn’t last long.
First, with 8:40 to play, Mitch McGary pulled down the rebound off a miss by Burke and dropped the ball into the bucket.
Then Burke scooped the ball up off a Paul turnover at the other end and, with a dunk, put the Wolverines back up by 11 at 59-48. With 8:21 to play and shooting just 37.1 percent on the night, Illinois couldn’t find a way back.
Morgan appeared to roll his right ankle as he came down under the Wolverine basket, but Michigan lost little if anything inside without the 6-foot-8, 250-pound forward.
McGary and a redshirt freshman with strong ties to Illinois, Max Bielfeldt and John Horford picked up most of Morgan’s minutes, and his slack. Illinois didn’t have anyone who could match up with either inside.
McGary, a 6-10, 250-pound forward, hasn’t started a game this season but averages 16 minutes a night anyway. Bielfeldt, though, plays less than six minutes a night, and was all nerves in his first minutes on the court. The 6-7, 245-pound forward badly missed his first free throw, at least a foot right of the basket, and the crowd, well aware that the athletic administration building on the Illinois campus bears his big-donor family’s name, let him have it.
But with another chance at the line minutes later, Bielfeldt sank both shots, finishing with four points in six minutes.
Horford had seven points and five boards in 17 minutes while McGary had six points and eight rebounds.
Illinois’ big-man combination of Nanna Egwu, Sam McLaurin and Tyler Griffey wasn’t much of a match for them. The Wolverines scored 42 points in the paint.
Michigan took the lead for good with 15:21 to play in the first half when Burke hit a jump shot to go up 8-7. With a 9-0 run that ended only with a 3-pointer by Paul with 10:52 left in the half, the Wolverines were up 15-10.
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