Michigan hoops trounce Illinois

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A slight slump by Maurice Taylor? No problem. When the big men struggle, Michigan turns loose its three-guard rotation.
It worked to perfection Thursday night as guards Louis Bullock, Brandun Hughes and Travis Conlan combined for 40 points. As a result, the No. 16 Wolverines took an early lead and cruised to an 88-74 victory over No. 25 Illinois.
“We all have our own individual jobs to help this team win,” said Bullock, who had 19 points. “Mine is: Coach gives me the green light to shoot.”
Hughes finished with 13 points and Conlan eight for the Wolverines (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten). The Fighting Illini (11-4, 1-2), who made only six of 25 shots from 3-point range, have lost five straight in Ann Arbor since 1991.
“Let them shoot from outside,” Bullock said. “If they’re going to try to beat us from the outside, we’ll just pound the boards.”
Which the Wolverines did with a vengeance, outrebounding Illinois 43-31.
“We’ve been a little up and down with our shooting, and it’s a combination of things,” Illinois coach Lon Kruger said. “Michigan deserves some of the credit for their defense.”
All-conference guard Kiwane Garris was held to 12 points by the Wolverines, almost five points below his average. Five of his points came in the final 31 seconds when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
“The job they did early-on against Kiwane got him a little out of his game, and he stopped looking for his shot,” Kruger said.
The outside shooting of Bullock, Hughes and Conlan opened things up underneath for Michigan. As a result, Robert Traylor muscled his way to 16 points, Taylor added 14, and Maceo Baston had 11 rebounds to go with his eight points.
Taylor’s dunk with four seconds remaining made him the 34th player in Michigan history to score 1,000 points.
“They didn’t double us (down low),” Taylor said. “If you don’t double or triple us, we’ll kill you. There are not a lot of teams that can single us and win.”
Kevin Turner led Illinois with 17 points and Chris Gandy added 15 for the Fighting Illini.
A 3-pointer by Garris 2:35 into the game gave Illinois its only lead at 6-5. The Wolverines then went on a 19-7 burst and were in control the rest of the way.
Traylor, a 300-pound crowd favorite, started the run with a jump hook from the lane. Bullock, who had nine points in the spurt, then hit three straight baskets, including a 3-pointer and a classic fadeaway jumper from just left of the lane.
The run continued with Traylor hitting two more baskets, Baston came off the bench for a pair, and Bullock finished the burst with a layup that put Michigan up 24-13 with 9:16 left in the half.
“Michigan has a lot of weapons,” Kruger said. “That’s the nature of the top-ranked teams in the country. And Michigan deserves to be one of those.”
Michigan, shooting 65.6 percent over the first 20 minutes, led 45-33 at halftime. The Wolverines shot 60.7 percent for the game, holding the Illini to 38.9 percent.
Bullock went down hard in a collision with Illinois’ Brian Johnson at the 3:28 mark of the second half. He limped off, favoring his left knee.
The second half was ragged from the start with Michigan scoring only four baskets in the first eight minutes, while going 0-for-6 at the free throw line over that span.