Michigan 71, Illinois 61
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Lester Abram had a season-high 25 points and Dion Harris scored 22 to lead Michigan to a 71-61 win over Illinois on Wednesday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Harris scored eight points and had an assist during a 13-0 run midway through the second half that gave the Wolverines (13-3, 1-0) the lead and a comfortable cushion.
Jamar Smith scored 10 of his 17 points in the first half for the Fighting Illini (12-4, 0-1). Illinois’ Warren Carter had 14 points and Chester Frazier added 11 in their first game that wasn’t at home or on a neutral site this season.
The Illini led 42-41 with 13:04 left before Harris’ sparked the decisive run with an assist, then made a mid-range jumper and a pair of 3-pointers to put Michigan ahead by 12. Illinois pulled to 61-57 with two minutes left, but couldn’t get closer.
Michigan, which won its biggest game of the year, played a lot of weak opponents during the nonconference schedule and lost at UCLA by 37 points, to Georgetown by 16 at home and at North Carolina State by seven points.
The Wolverines started their upperclassmen after some of them were benched in previous games.
Michigan, which fell behind by six early, had five turnovers in the first six minutes of the game and struggled to score when it did take care of the ball. Abram helped the Wolverines lead 29-25 at halftime. Michigan lost the lead a few times early in the second half before pulling away.