CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Warren Carter scored 18 points Wednesday night to pace a second-half surge, leading Illinois to a 54-42 win over Big Ten rival Michigan.
Illinois improved to 20-9 overall 8-6 in the Big Ten, posting its eighth straight 20-win season. The Illini lost 71-61 at Michigan Jan. 3 in the conference opener for both schools.Jerret Smith led Michigan (18-10, 6-7) with nine points.Illinois opened the second half with a 7-0 run, stretching a four-point halftime lead to 11. The Illini held Michigan scoreless for more than seven minutes at the end of the first half and start of the second.Rich McBride finished with 11 points and helped fuel Illinois' early second-half surge, hitting a 15-footer and 3-pointer in just 20 seconds.Illinois stretched its lead to 13 midway through the second half and Michigan never was able to pull closer than 10 the rest of the way.Both teams battled turnovers and cold shooting in the first half, when the Wolverines shot 32 percent and Illinois just 28 percent.Michigan built an early 10-4 lead, holding Illinois without a field goal for more than six minutes to start the game. But Illinois crawled back and ran off four unanswered points in the final 2:20 to take a 23-19 halftime lead.Though both teams still are trying to claw their way into the NCAA tournament, the late-season game was nearly overshadowed by a tradition-ending halftime show and off-the-court turmoil.Chief Illiniwek danced his last dance at halftime, ending an 81-year run at Illinois. The university is retiring the chief to end a ban on hosting postseason sports that was imposed in 2005 by the NCAA, which deemed the mascot offensive to American Indians.The game also was played hours after sophomore guard Jamar Smith turned himself in on charges stemming from a Feb. 12 car accident that injured both him and teammate Brian Carlwell.Smith, who averaged 8.1 points per game this season, was charged Monday with aggravated driving under the influence, a felony carrying a sentence of up to 12 years in prison, and leaving the scene of an accident. Smith, who is sitting out the rest of the season, will plead not guilty, his lawyer says.Smith and Carlwell sat next to each other on the Illinois bench Wednesday night. Carlwell, a 6-11 freshman reserve who was hospitalized for four days with a severe concussion, is not expected to play again until at least the Big Ten tournament.