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Illinois’ Bruce Weber on hot seat after loss

Illinois guard BrandPaul center is sandwiched by Michigan forward Evan Smotrycz (23) guard Stu Douglass (1) during first half an

Illinois guard Brandon Paul, center, is sandwiched by Michigan forward Evan Smotrycz (23) and guard Stu Douglass (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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Updated: March 14, 2012 8:12AM



ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Coach Bruce Weber’s seat has to be getting hotter after Illinois lost to
No. 22 Michigan 70-61 on Sunday at the Crisler Center.

Afterward, a subdued Weber pointed out the Illini’s flaws instead of trying to find the positives.

‘‘You have to play better than that if you [think] you’ll have a chance to win,’’ Weber said. ‘‘Too many turnovers [13], and unforced, careless turnovers have been the story of our season. That’s been the major dilemma with us. And we have to guard. We gave up 50 percent [field-goal shooting] again.’’

Weber probably had his boss on his mind, too. Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas went on a Champaign radio station Saturday and didn’t give Weber a vote of confidence through the end of the
season. Instead, Thomas said he will evaluate Weber later.

It was the third consecutive loss for the Illini (16-9, 5-7 Big Ten) and their sixth loss in their last seven games. The Wolverines (19-7, 9-4), meanwhile, improved to 14-0 at home.

Two of Michigan’s poorest three-point shooters, Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 points) and Evan Smotrycz (13 points), both went 2-for-2 from three-point range in the first half. That was something Weber said doomed Illinois early on, as did the Wolverines’ 56.5 percent shooting in the first half.

Another area of concern centered on Meyers Leonard. The 7-1 center continued to struggle with foul trouble, picking up his second with 12:16 left in the first half. He was replaced by Nnanna Egwu but returned to start the second half and finished with a game-high 12 rebounds.

‘‘When you’re a big guy in this league and you’re good, people are going to dig in and be physical with you, and you just have to deal with it,’’ Weber said. ‘‘That’s where
Meyers has got to get better.’’

Tyler Griffey came off the bench to score 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three-point range, for the Illini.

‘‘I hit a couple of shots in the beginning, and I went from there,’’ Griffey said. ‘‘You have to go in
expecting to be ready. [Playing more down the stretch] is up for Coach to decide. I tried to prove my case, but we’ll see.’’

Point guard Sam Maniscalco suffered a sprained knee Thursday at Indiana and didn’t play. Weber said an Indiana player landed on Maniscalco’s back on a rebound, causing his knee to buckle.

‘‘He got on the bus, and it swelled up,’’ Weber said. ‘‘He probably could have given us a few minutes, but I’m hoping to get him back by Wednesday [against Purdue in Champaign].’’

Trey Burke added 14 points for Michigan.



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