ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WCIA) — The first place Illinois basketball team hits the road for its second straight game visiting Michigan Saturday morning at 11 a.m. on Fox Sports One. The Illini (14-5, 6-2 B1G) moved into a tie atop the Big Ten with Michigan State after the Spartans lost at Indiana Thursday night. A win against the Wolverines (11-7, 2-5) would move the Illini into solo first place in the league.
“We always want to be the best at everything we do, being the best in the Big Ten is definitely one of those goals we try to accomplish,” Illinois freshman center Kofi Cockburn said. “We’re still hunting, and we’re trying to get to the top. There’s always more to be done.”
“What we experienced last year, I feel like that helped us a lot to figure out ways to win on the road,” Illinois sophomore forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili said. “Now we’re coming out on top on a couple of possessions, so that’s definitely an experience thing.”
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood reiterated his disappointment with how Alan Griffin’s suspension played out during his first time speaking with the media since the news came out on Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t agree with the timing of it, so to speak,” Underwood said. “It’s one of those things where we’ll move forward, and you always have setbacks during the year, and a little adversity, it’s kind of the next man up mentality. We played without him in the Purdue game, and we’ll have to do that in the next couple.”
Illinois beat then No. 5 Michigan 71-62 at State Farm Center back on Dec. 5. The Wolverines have lost five out of their last eight games since, including three in a row.