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Michigan splits season series against Illinois

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D.J. Wilson and the Wolverines got revenge on Illinois Saturday

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After losing to the Fighting Illini last week in Champaign, the Michigan Wolverines returned to their winning ways.

The Wolverines (13-7, 3-4 Big 10) took down Illinois (12-8, 3-5 Big 10) 66-57 at the Crisler Center on Saturday. Illinois is now 0-4 on the road in the Big 10 this season.

Junior forward D.J. Wilson continued to impress Wolverine fans early in the game. After a nice — and hard — put-back slam dunk, he had two and-one chances within a minute of each other in the first half. He led at halftime with 12 points and finished the game with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wolverines had a 10-point lead heading into the second half, and went on an 8-3 run coming out of the break to extend UM’s lead to 16.

Michigan stayed in control for the majority of the second half, but Illinois decided to sneak back into the game and took advantage of missed shots by the Wolverines down the stretch. It was 60-39 with 5:57 remaining in the game, but the Illini quickly went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 14.

However, it just wasn’t enough for Illinois, as they could never make a true comeback from the halftime deficit and the run UM went on to begin the second half.

Derrick Walton, Jr. (12 points, 11 rebounds), Mo Wagner (eight points, two rebounds) and Zak Irvin (15 points, two rebounds) all had solid games for the Wolverines. A week ago, those three players combined for only 27 points and shot 50 percent (10-of-20) on their field goals.

Even though Michigan scored three less points today than in its last meeting with Illinois on Jan. 11, Michigan’s defense buckled up and held Illinois to just 2-of-12 from behind the 3-point line. The Wolverines gave up 85 points the last time they played the Illini.

Michigan plays next on Thursday at the Crisler Center against the Indiana Hoosiers. After that, they head to East Lansing to play Michigan State and then return home to play Ohio State.