Champaign — Illinois coach Brad Underwood’s first two words to describe Friday night’s match against Michigan were “rock fight.”
That was a good explanation for most of the game. Both teams played a physical defensive style. Wolverine guards are positively so.
And before Trent Frazier fueled and ran in the second half and finally won the 68-53 Irini, the Big Ten match in front of the sold-out State Farm Center was about to fall into the network. It looked like it was.
It wasn’t much different from the 25th Illinois victory in Nebraska at the beginning of the week. Or a significant portion of last week’s home victory over Maryland.
It’s probably the type of game you’d expect on a regular basis, as Big Ten’s play spins up in the New Year. Illinois (13-3, 6-0 Big Ten) has so far found a way to win in such a situation.
“I happened just (Thursday) night, because there was nothing else to see Iowa-Indiana for a moment,” Underwood said. “All games are rock fights. This league is good. There are good coaches. They are going to take action. They are going to plan you. I found a way to do my best (Friday).”
Illinois patience included having to throw a significant portion of the match plan when Michigan tycoons Hunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns Jr. were excluded before the match. Dickinson’s absence was important. The 7ft 2 sophomore center is Wolverine’s main scorer and player who carries out many of the attacks.
Irini was ready to play against the Dickinson-led Michigan team.
“We were … planning to have a hunter,” Frazier said after setting Coffey Cockburn aside to remind him of Dickinson’s name. “We planned how he and he would protect with a ball screen. (Moussa) Diabaté came and they did a really good job of hedging me. The first half recovered a bit. I Had to adjust. In the second half I and Coffey talked. He did a really good job of screening and rescreening off hard hedging. “
The situation in Michigan and Dickinson reminded Underwood how his coach staff prepared to face Eric Ayala and Maryland on the court last season. After that, the Terrapins guard didn’t play. The game plan was out the window, and Irini lost 66-63 at his home.
“When (Ayala) was out, I dealt with the situation in Maryland,” Underwood said. “We’re really flat and emotional like” OK, I have this. ” There was no. “
Illinois had little of it against Michigan on Friday night. Wolverines defeated Irini before Frazier fired in the second half, finishing with 18 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds, scoring or setting up one of his teammates to get out of Irini’s last 21 points. I got 19 points.
It was Juwan Howard’s decision to coach Michigan that Dickinson and Johns didn’t play. Both were cleared after a positive COVID-19 test during the Wolverines program suspension, but Howard couldn’t play them comfortably given the situation they were back on Friday night. did.
Howard pointed out that Johns caught it before Dickinson, but had more symptoms, saying “these two guys had no time to practice going out with COVID.” “I wasn’t comfortable getting them out in a game with no practice time, because it only puts them in a difficult situation …. You never know how that situation will end.
“It was hard. We had to understand that. I was part of a situation where I used to have only eight people in the game at the NBA. Is there eight guys? If there are only 7 people, they know they have to do for each other, so the guys are so dialed that they will play the best games. That’s what we all faced last year. It’s the way of thinking of the times that I’ve been doing. “
*** Dickinson’s absence created a post type mismatch. Diabate may stand 6-11, but freshmen give up at least £ 75 to Cockburn. Michigan also sought to protect the Illinois Center with walk-on Jaron Faulds (6-10, 240) and Jace Howard (6-7, 225).
“Well, well, he’s big,” Diabate said of defending Cockburn. “I’m not going to lie. It’s rewarding, but I’m a basketball player at the end of the day and I’m trying to compete every day. It makes me better. My teammates do a great job Did, Jace and Jaron put on them a hat. They gave them everything they had. I was supplying their energy, I swear, man. I play games. I had a foul trouble early on, and guys, they got hooked. “
Cockburn ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds. This season he has won 9 consecutive titles and 11 consecutive double-double titles. The 7-foot, 285-pound Junior Center currently has 39 double-doubles in his career. This is NCAA’s most common since 2019-20 and is two shy to tie Skip Toren’s program records.
“Our men were competing and fighting,” said Juwan Howard, director of Michigan. “Coffey did a really good job of becoming a finisher in that low block. Everything he catches with paint, he’s going to work you. If he doesn’t make a shot, he’ll do it a second time. Good at jumping, get an aggressive rebound and undo it. “
Frazier had a quick and light moment with Juwan Howard after the final checkout of the game with a win. In most cases, Illinois guards joked with Michigan coaches about why he faced regular one-on-one full court pressure.
“They did a good job of getting me to work in the first half,” Frazier said. “That’s what I told him to retreat his men.”
Underwood didn’t care about the fact that Michigan’s guards (usually Devante Jones, Eli Brooks, or Frankie Collins) picked up Frazier defensively as soon as they caught the inbound pass. It played what Irina wanted to do with the ball in Frazier’s hand.
“It’s in our favor,” Underwood said. “If you want to pick up Trent Frazier on the half-court line or pick up on the full court, screen as high as you can and let Trent go downhill to play in space. You were in space. He created a great opportunity. Trent has become a really good layup maker. You want to pick us up on the half court line, we’re there all night I will screen you. “
Frazier almost threw his first career dunk late Friday night, but was fouled by Jones from behind and instead made two free throws. When Frazier aimed for a dunk shot, his teammates remained open on the bench.
Cockburn was chasing play, and Dunk was upset that he didn’t go down.
“Some plays make it difficult to really understand what you’ve done,” Cockburn said. “I may notice after the fact. I and Trent sometimes tell him a lot about his ability to drive the ball and dunk to someone. I always tell him,” Only once. Try it. Try it once. “
“I think I stopped halfway down the court and was just in awe. I was watching him go up, and when he fouled, that was basically me. I was very angry because it was his opportunity to prove that he was a great athlete and people are not aware of it. “
Frazier said Friday night’s dunk shoot was both his first and last.
“That’s the last opportunity,” he said. “I will never do that again.”
Underwood isn’t just about Frazier refraining from trying more dunks this season.
“I want him to make it,” Underwood said. “Trent is doing a very whimsical exercise, but he’s struggling here. He doesn’t have a big hand. He jumps higher than anyone on our team. He dunks. Seeing the shoot, we saw it, but I just want him to make two points. I want him to land safely and not get hurt trying to do it. I want to. “
Illinois Finds a Way to Win Big Ten’s “Rock Fight” | Sports
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