No. 17 Michigan 59, W. Illinois 55

John Beilein gave his team credit for consistency, at least.

”We were average in both halves,” the Michigan coach said.

Average was good enough Thursday night, when the 17th-ranked

Wolverines held off Western Illinois 59-55. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored

16 points and Trey Burke added 14 for Michigan, which takes on

Memphis on Monday in the Maui Invitational.

That game – and whatever matchups follow in Hawaii – should give

the Wolverines (3-0) a much stiffer test than they’ve faced so

far.

”We’re going to learn a lot about them, because we’re going to

be playing incredible quickness, incredible length,” Beilein said.

”These games, we’re going to have to shoot the ball and not have

careless turnovers.”

Michigan led by five with 3:06 remaining when Western Illinois’

Obi Emegano missed a free throw that would have completed a

three-point play, and Hardaway scored at the other end to make it

53-46.

Jordan Morgan added 11 points for Michigan.

”We needed a game like that, to kind of wake us up a little

bit,” Morgan said. ”Not just wake us up – get used to playing in

those situations where we’ve got to knock down free throws late,

and we’ve got to get key stops and key baskets. We needed to feel

that pressure.”

Western Illinois (0-2) lost its 15th straight game, a slide that

dates to Jan. 15. Ceola Clark III led the Leathernecks with 21

points, and Terell Parks contributed 11.

Trailing 30-28 early in the second half, Michigan went on an

11-2 run to take the lead for good. Morgan capped the stretch with

an impressive sequence in which he scored, blocked a shot, then

scored another basket inside to give the Wolverines a 39-32

lead.

Michigan opened the season with a win over Division II Ferris

State last week, then handed Towson its 21st consecutive loss.

Western Illinois gave the Wolverines their toughest game yet.

The Leathernecks shot 6 of 9 from 3-point range in the first

half and entered halftime tied at 28. Despite the run early in the

second by the Wolverines, Western Illinois trailed by only four and

had the ball when Hardaway drew a charging foul with 8:13 to

play.

Morgan’s layup off an offensive rebound made it 48-42, and Parks

fouled out with 6:30 remaining, hurting Western Illinois’ chances.

Hardaway made a 3-pointer to push the lead to nine, and the

Leathernecks called a timeout with 5:01 left.

The teams finished with a combined 38 fouls after committing

only 11 in the first half.

Western Illinois was dealt another blow when Clark went down

with cramping in his right leg with 4:05 remaining. He came back

with 2:37 to play.

This was Clark’s first game in nearly a year after a toe injury

ended his 2010-11 season after six games.

”It was tough to lose Ceola down the stretch,” Western

Illinois coach Jim Molinari said. ”We had to play without him all

of last season, and he missed the opener, and he’s really the

player that controls everything for us down the floor.”

Billy Molinari, the coach’s son, lost the ball when he fell to

the floor with a left knee injury at the 2:09 mark. Jim Molinari

said it looks like a torn ACL.

Michigan trailed 10-7 before going on an 11-0 run during the

first half. Clark answered with two 3-pointers – sandwiched around

another shot from beyond the arc by Tommie Tyler – to pull the

Leathernecks even at 19.

”They exposed us a little bit in some areas where we have to

work on and get better,” Hardaway said. ”They had veteran guards

out there, so they were controlling the game for their team.”