Michigan wins Big Ten title in rout of Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Michigan doesn’t share nicely.
That was the emphatic statement Tuesday night at the State Farm Center as the Wolverines put a headlock on the outright Big Ten title, crushing Illinois, 84-53, in the final road game of the season.
No. 12 Michigan (22-7, 14-3 Big Ten) came to Champaign having clinched a share of the program’s 14th conference title and cruising to the No. 1 Big Ten tournament seed.
But Tuesday showed that they were not satisfied, securing Michigan’s first solo title in 28 years.
Illinois entered on a three-game winning streak beaming as a defensive juggernaut. Scoring 52 points in the first half and their Big Ten-best 84 for the game, the Wolverines buried that notion.
To reach another level, though, it takes another level player and Nik Stauskas made his compelling case for Big Ten Player of the Year, hitting a career high 7 (of 9) 3-pointers on his way to 24 points.
In a season full of Big Ten championship moments, none was more impactful than Stauskas at the end of the first half.
With the Orange Crush student section taunting him and Illinois coach John Groce using up his fouls in the final 20 seconds, despite trailing by 19, Stauskas made them all pay.
Getting the ball with seconds to play, he drilled a 25-foot 3-pointer and glared at the student section.
Even U-M coach John Beilein, rarely prone to excitement, turned back to the bench and said to no one in particular: “Wow.”
Watching the lead peak at 33 with 5:44 remaining in the game, the loss buried the Illini (17-13, 6-11), likely ending their shot at approaching the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Watching an opponent shoot nearly 70 percent from three-point range will do that to a team bragging on its defense.
But that’s Michigan’s power. The Wolverines entered the game shooting 39 percent from 3-point range yet only had one blowout 3-point shooting game in the first 16.
So when it came, it looked like an avalanche, with Caris LeVert’s 15 points and Glenn Robinson III’s 13 supporting Stauskas.
The 52-30 first half lead was straight out of the Beilein manual.
Michigan’s clinic came from behind the three-point line, hitting an insane 11-of-14 from 3-point range, showing off every skill they had.
Stauskas led the charge with 14 points, hitting 4-of-5, including the 25-footer at the halftime buzzer.
Zak Irvin came off the bench and grabbed three of this own.
Even Robinson, who was 1-of-10 from long range in the past month, hit one.
The clinic answered whatever questions were out there.
Illinois had held its previous four opponents to less than 50 points.
No. 1 Florida 72,
South Carolina 46
COLUMBIA, S.C.— Michael Frazier II set a Florida record with 11 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 37 points, leading the top-ranked Gators to a 72-46 victory against South Carolina on Tuesday night.
Florida (28-2, 17-0) has won a school-record 22 straight games to move within one win of a perfect Southeastern Conference regular season.
Frazier kept the Gators in the game when his teammates struggled in the opening half. Florida took control with a 23-5 run midway through the second half.
Frazier broke the 28-year-old Florida mark of Joe Lawrence, who made nine 3s against California on Dec. 27, 1986.
Mindaugus Kacinas had 12 points for South Carolina (11-19, 4-13), which was coming off a win over Kentucky.
Frazier blew past his old career best of 21 points set earlier this season against Texas A&M. He was 11 of 18 from 3-point range while the rest of the Gators were 0 of 13.
GEORGIA TECH 67, No. 7 SYRACUSE 62
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Trae Golden scored 16 points, including six clutch free throws in the final seconds, and Georgia Tech stunned struggling Syracuse.
Syracuse (26-4, 13-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had lost three of four coming into the game and dropped three more spots in the rankings after starting the season with 25 straight wins and spending three weeks at No. 1.
Georgia Tech (14-16, 5-12) snapped a four-game losing streak.
No. 13 CREIGHTON 63
WASHINGTON — D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, and Georgetown frustrated Doug McDermott until late in the game.
Markel Starks added 17 points and a career-best 11 assists, and Jabril Trawick had 15 points for the Hoyas (17-12, 8-9), who shot 54 percent and advanced their cause as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament. They also still have a chance to be one of the six teams in the overhauled, 10-team Big East to get a bye in next week’s conference tournament.
McDermott scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, making a series of 3-pointers that helped cut a 16-point deficit to five. The Bluejays (23-6, 13-4) have lost two straight and are left with an outside chance at winning the regular-season title in their first year in the conference.
BAYLOR 74, No. 16 IOWA STATE 61
WACO, Texas — Brady Heslip scored 18 points, and Baylor got a much-needed boost to its NCAA tournament hopes.
There were 15 lead changes and four ties before Heslip put the Bears (20-10, 8-9 Big 12) ahead with a tiebreaking 3 with 2:14 left — the start of a game-ending 13-0 run.
Iowa State (22-7, 10-7), in the mix for the No. 2 seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament, lost its second road game in four days.
The Cyclones didn’t score after DeAndre Kane’s wide-open 3 tied it at 61 with 4:10 left. Kane had 20 points and Dustin Hogue added 12.
No. 25 KENTUCKY 55, ALABAMA 48
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Julius Randle had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Kentucky ended a two-game losing streak.
Needing a bounce after Saturday’s loss at South Carolina with a huge hurdle looming this weekend at No. 1 Florida, the Wildcats (22-8, 12-5 Southeastern Conference) used a 15-2 second-half run to build a 43-34 lead.
Kentucky avoided its first three-game losing streak under coach John Calipari and clinched second place in the conference.
It wasn’t easy or pretty for the Wildcats, whose 33 percent shooting reflected their generally tentative play. But a couple of timely dunks by Dakari Johnson and 3-pointers by Aaron and Andrew Harrison keyed the run that helped put away Alabama.
Trevor Releford had 13 points for Alabama (12-18, 6-11).
By wire sources