CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Possible No. 1 ranking? Yeah, that’s nice, Michigan’s Trey Burke said Sunday outside the locker room at Illinois’ Assembly Hall.
But after the win that should give the No. 2 Wolverines their first top ranking since the 1992-93 season, the sophomore guard wanted to talk defense and what a team does when one of its big, defensive rocks goes down.
If you’re Michigan (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten), you plug in a couple of other big guys. And you win – in this case 74-60 over the Illini, most of it without 6-foot-8, 250-pound Jordan Morgan. The starting forward limped to the locker room less than two minutes into the game with a sprained right ankle and didn’t come back.
Coach (John Beilein) calls him the minister of defense, Burke said, crediting Mitch McGary, John Horford and Max Bielfeldt, the three big men who picked up the slack.
I say this every game, Burke added, but it just starts with defense. I think that started in the first half.
And that No. 1 ranking, which will likely be Michigan’s after Duke’s lopsided loss to Miami earlier in the week opened the door when the AP poll comes out today, doesn’t mean much yet, Beilein was quick to remind.
You compete for a Big Ten championship, then you go on you compete for a national championship, he said. That’s the No. 1 you want down the line.
Illinois (15-6, 2-5) and first-year coach John Groce, whose team has been doomed by cold shooting since mid-December and shot 37.1 percent Sunday, could do little but marvel at the Wolverines.
I give Michigan a lot of credit, Groce said. You make one mistake and they exploit it like that.
Burke scored 19 to lead Michigan. Nick Stauskas scored 14 points and Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 12 each.
Brandon Paul led Illinois with 15 points but had five of the Illini’s 15 costly turnovers.
Beilein said he didn’t yet know the severity of Morgan’s sprained right ankle but said he couldn’t have returned to the game even if baldy needed.
No. 17 CREIGHTON 81, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 51: In Carbondale, Ill., Doug McDermott had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bluejays shot 63 percent, bouncing back from a pair of road losses.
Gregory Echenique added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Creighton (18-3, 7-2 MVC) was 12 for 20 from three-point range with Ethan Wragge hitting his first four attempts and Jahenns Manigat going 4 for 4. Creighton also dominated on the boards with a 39-19 cushion and has won 10 straight in the series while shaking off setbacks at Wichita State and Drake.
Desmar Jackson scored Southern Illinois’ first 10 then later went 21 minutes without scoring before finishing with 16 for the Salukis (8-12, 1-8).
No. 25 MIAMI 71, FLORIDA STATE 47: In Coral Gables, Fla., Trey McKinney Jones scored 15 points for the Hurricanes, and the Atlantic Coast Conference leaders won their seventh game in a row.
The blowout victory before a capacity crowd was the second in a row for Miami, ensuring a significant jump in today’s poll. The Hurricanes drubbed No. 1 Duke on Wednesday.
Miami (15-3, 6-0) is off to its best start in the conference, alone atop the standings, and is 9-0 at home. Florida State (11-8, 3-3) fell to 0-3 this season against ranked teams.
The Seminoles endured long scoring droughts against Miami’s man-to-man defense and shot a season-low 31 percent, the fourth time in the past five games they’ve been under 42 percent.