ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Some quick thoughts after No. 25 Michigan's 70-61 win over Illinois -- the Wolverines' 15th straight win at home.
How the game was won: By Michigan getting a little bit of help from everyone. The Wolverines had their usual complement of seven scorers in the stat sheet, but more than other games this one felt like it had a little bit of every rotation player helping out in some ways. Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. regained his shooting stroke in the first half, freshman guard Trey Burke continued his strong play, and role players such as Evan Smotrycz and Matt Vogrich had bigger-than-anticipated performances.
Player of the game: Smotrycz. He didn't have much of an impact in the second half, but Smotrycz, who had been struggling for much of the Big Ten season, had his best half in a while in the first half. He scored 12 of his 13 points in the first half and played with more confidence than he has had in a while. It was only the third time in Big Ten play Smotrycz has scored in double figures.
Unsung hero of the game: Vogrich. The Lake Forest, Ill., native had been almost invisible on the court throughout most of the season, but he followed up scoring nine points at Nebraska with eight points against Illinois, regaining the shooting stroke that made him one of the more valuable bench players in the Big Ten. He also held his own in the post against 7-foot-1 Meyers Leonard, despite giving up 7 inches to him.
What it means: For Michigan, it means the Wolverines keep pace in the Big Ten championship hunt. At 9-4 in the Big Ten, they are a half-game behind Ohio State and Michigan State, which are 9-3. Michigan's next game is Saturday at home against Ohio State. For Illinois, the loss pushes the Illini one step closer to the NCAA tournament bubble heading in the wrong direction. They have lost six of seven and still have three ranked teams to play this season: at No. 3 Ohio State on Feb. 21, home against Michigan on March 1 and at No. 22 Wisconsin on March 4.
Record performance: Michigan won its 15th straight game at home, moving into a tie for 10th with longest current home win streaks with Arkansas and Weber State. Michigan could move into a tie for ninth if St. Francis (N.Y.) beats LIU-Brooklyn later Sunday. Also, Michigan guard Zack Novak moved into 43rd place all-time in scoring at Michigan with his 12 points. He now has 1,020 in his career -- passing Don Eaddy, who had 1,012 points from 1951-55.