CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)—Illinois led by one point with 17 seconds remaining Saturday when Warren Carter marched down the court to the free throw line after getting fouled under Michigan’s basket.
“I knew as soon as I got fouled that I was going to make those free throws,” said Carter, who was shooting 63 percent from the line this season.
Both shots swished and the seventh-ranked Illini had all they would need to hold off the Wolverines 79-74.
It was their 31st consecutive win at the Assembly Hall, a run that started on Jan. 17, 2004, and ties the school record set between Jan. 15, 1984 and Jan. 4, 1986.
Dee Brown scored 26 points and James Augustine added 23 as Illinois withstood Michigan’s second-half charge.
Illinois (16-2, 2-1 Big Ten) had a 69-60 lead after Brown hit his fourth straight 3-pointer with 7:04 to go, but Daniel Horton brought the Wolverines back with an eight-point outburst of his own that made it 69-68.
Dion Harris’ two free throws completed a 10-0 run and gave Michigan (11-3, 1-2) a 70-69 lead with 4:01 left, but Augustine put the Illini ahead again with two free throws and a layup. Illinois limited the Wolverines to just four points the rest of the way.
“We made plays at gut-check times,” said coach Bruce Weber, who is 79-10 in two-plus seasons at Illinois.
Horton scored 19 points to lead Michigan and Courtney Sims added 16 as the Wolverines lost to Illinois for the 11th consecutive time going back to a 95-91 double-overtime win on Jan. 16, 2000.
“Obviously, one possession here or there was going to determine the outcome for either team,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “We certainly need more production from a few of our other guys.”
The Illini, playing their first game since the 63-48 loss at Iowa a week ago, came out sluggish on offense again and watched the Wolverines take a 16-12 lead after Sims backed Shaun Pruitt into the lane and got a three-point play with 10:40 to go in the first half.
But Augustine’s dunk and a 3-pointer by Rich McBride with 8:55 to go ignited a 22-6 run. Then Brian Randle slammed in a rebound of a miss by Brown to give Illinois a 39-28 halftime lead.
“I thought we had a great finish to the first half both defensively and offensively,” Weber said. “But they just kept coming at us.”
Michigan chipped away after halftime and cut its deficit to 50-45 on Lester Abram’s long 3-pointer with 12:59 left. Then Brent Petway, playing in place of Graham Brown who was on the bench in foul trouble, scored six straight points that cut the Illinois lead to 53-51 before Brown went on his 3-point shooting spree.
“We held our poise and found a way to win it,” Weber said.