CHAMPAIGN— It doesn’t take much to see that Michigan is the class of the Big Ten Conference this season.
The No. 12 ranked Wolverines shot a blistering 57 percent from the field, including 16-for-23 from 3-point range, en route to a convincing 84-53 victory over Illinois on Senior Night Tuesday evening at the State Farm Center in Champaign.
The win by the Wolverines clinches the conference championship outright for them, and thus, the top seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament next week at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Illinois, who never led in the game, kept the contest close for a good portion of the first half, but a 10-0 run by the Wolverines put the game out of reach and they cruised to a 52-30 halftime advantage. The margin of defeat was the largest in the history of the State Farm Center.
Nik Stauskas, the Wolverines’ sophomore guard, led the way for Michigan with a game-high 24 points, including 7-of-9 from beyond the arc. Caris LeVert added 15 points, while Glenn Robinson III chipped in 13 for Michigan, who improves to 22-7 overall and moves to 14-3 in the Big Ten with the victory.
“It was kind of contagious, and once one shot started to fall, they all pretty much fell into place,” Stauskas said. “This is our championship, and we wanted to win it outright”.
Michigan coach John Beilein had nothing but praise for his players after the game.
“It was a blessing to coach these players, and as far as the shooting tonight goes, I haven’t even seen that display in practice,” Beilein said.
Illinois honored its two seniors, Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey, before the game. Bertrand, who is a fifth-year senior, began his senior season in the starting lineup, but has been coming off the bench the past few weeks.