Michigan’s John Beilein recaps Illinois win on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. The win ties record for program.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — John Beilein’s latest version of Michigan basketball has earned a place in the history books.
Zavier Simpson had 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds and the No. 2-ranked Wolverines clamped down on Illinois defensively in the second half to pick up a 79-69 road win at Illinois in Champaign on Thursday night.
With the win, Michigan moves to 16-0, 5-0 in Big Ten play. The 16-0 mark ties a program record for the best start to a season, joining the 2012-13 national runner-up team and the 1985-86 Big Ten championship squad.
Michigan, one of two undefeated teams left in the country, is now 30-1 over its last 31 games.
The Wolverines return to the court Sunday for a home tilt against Northwestern (7:30 p.m., BTN).
Michigan freshman Ignas Brazdeikis had 15 points and eight rebounds.
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Evening it out
Michigan started the game on a 7-0 run and then spent most of the evening more or less playing even against an Illini team that was far too up and down.
One of Michigan’s best assets is its overall consistency, as the Wolverines rarely went through any time-sucking droughts that allowed Illinois to push forward with any type of serious run.
Both Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole, two of Michigan’s top scorers, struggled with their shots early — combining to start the game 2 of 9 from the field.
But Michigan found other ways. Jon Teske hit a triple. Simpson routinely got into the lane to create opportunities for both himself and others. He hit two triples of his own.
This was a by-committee night offensively for Michigan. And the Wolverines are fortunate to have a top six that consistently churns with real consistency.
No one was particularly great, but Michigan as a collective was more than good enough to keep Illinois at an arm’s length basically throughout the game.
Big minutes for Teske
Teske had one of his more complete games of the season, at both ends of the floor, Thursday at Illinois.
The junior center went for 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots in 33 minutes of action.
Michigan ran its offense through Teske off ball screens. The Wolverine found him in pick-and-pop situations. He scored on screen-rolls and he distributed the ball off screen action to open cutters throughout the game.
He was able to play without fouling and, as a result of great conditioning, stayed on the floor consistently. Quite the feat for a 7-foot-1 center.
Michigan sophomore forward Isaiah Livers was back in action after missing the Wolverines last two games with back spasms.
As was the case before his injury, Livers was the first player off the bench for Michigan — entering the game almost immediately after Charles Matthews picked up a quick foul.
Livers played without restriction. He finished with nine points and five rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter nickbaumgardner.