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Published: Sunday, 2/24/2008

Michigan gets ugly win over Illinois


ANN ARBOR - On a night when Jalen Rose attended his first Michigan game since his days as a member of the Fab Five, the Wolverines shot just 30 percent while managing to pull out a 49-43 win over Illinois.

"This is a great win for the program, because we had to grind it out, but there certainly wasn't a lot of offense," said Michigan coach Jim Beilein. "They have a very good defense, and ours is improving, but there were a lot of mistakes on both sides."

The yellow-clad Wolverines took the court looking like Rose and his famous teammates.

The action, though, didn't remind anyone of the good old days.

"I thought we played pretty good defense, but offensively, that's the ugliest game I've seen," said Ekpe Udoh, who blocked five Illinois shots.

Udoh nearly gave the ineffective Illini a lifeline when he fouled Calvin Brock just as the junior was knocking down a

3-pointer. Brock could have pulled Illinois within 46-44 with 36 seconds left, but he missed the free throw and Michigan clinched the game from the line.

"That was disheartening," Udoh said. "If they had come back and won the game after I did that, I would have cried my eyes out."

Instead, Michigan (8-19, 5-10 Big Ten) won for the fourth time in five games despite shooting 27 percent in the second half.

"We gutted that game out, and we couldn't have done that earlier this year," said DeShawn Sims. "We were able to keep our poise and keep playing."

Illinois (11-17, 3-12) lost its third straight on its second disastrous trip to Michigan in less than a month. On Jan. 30, they lost to Michigan State 51-41.

"This state has not been fruitful for us - we got 41 that time, so we look like an offensive juggernaut tonight with 43," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "We took away a lot of their offense, but we couldn't put the ball in the basket."

The Illini have scored fewer than 60 points in each of the three straight losses, and Weber admits that they are running out of gas at the end of a terrible season.

"Our guys are just beaten down emotionally," he said.

Harris led Michigan with 14 points, but Kelvin Grady was the only other Michigan player to get into double figures, scoring 12.

Brock led Illinois with 12 and Trent Meacham added 11.

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