ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan wore blue uniforms at home, not its traditional white gear, to fire up its players and send Illinois a message.
It seemed to work.
D.J. Wilson had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, leading the Wolverines to a 66-57 win over the Fighting Illini.
“We weren’t the white-collar team today,” Wilson said Saturday.
That was a thinly veiled shot at Illinois center Maverick Morgan, who called the Wolverines a “white-collar team traditionally,” on Jan. 11 after a 16-point win over them.
Even though the comments appeared to make Michigan more motivated to win the rematch, Morgan insisted he didn’t regret what he said.
“It’s how I felt after the first game, and it’s how I still feel about the first game,” Morgan said.
Michigan’s Derrick Walton had 11 of his 13 points in the second half and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds and Zak Irvin scored 15 for the Wolverines (13-7, 3-4 Big Ten).
The Fighting Illini (12-8, 2-5) didn’t have a player in double digits until there was 4:23 left, when Malcom Hill made a jumper. Hill finished with 16 points.
The Wilson-led Wolverines took control with a 13-3 run midway through the first half. The 6-foot-10 junior forward helped Michigan turn a one-point deficit into a 22-13 lead with 10 points in fewer than eight minutes. He made a 3-pointer, baskets off offensive rebounds and a free throw during the dominant stretch.
“He was absolutely terrific,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “He was a real difference.”
Michigan led 34-24 at halftime and was ahead by as many as 21 in the second half before the Illini rallied to make the score look relatively respectable.