Aubrey Dawkins’ breakout performance saves Michigan vs. Illinois
The freshman had just 15 points in his career before Tuesday. Against Illinois, he scored 20 to carry Michigan to a win.
Michigan’s Aubrey Dawkins always had the bloodlines. His father, Johnny, was the National Player of the Year at Duke in 1986 and played nine seasons in the NBA. His brother, Andre, finished a solid four-year career for the Blue Devils last season by hitting over 42 percent of his three-pointers. Up until Tuesday afternoon against Illinois, though, Michigan’s freshman wing had yet to leave his mark.
Dawkins only played 63 minutes in the Wolverines’ 12-game start, scoring just 15 points. With Michigan’s offense struggling against Illinois in the first half, coach John Beilein turned to the freshman and he did not disappoint. Michigan overcame a double-digit second half deficit to force overtime and beat the Illini 73-65 at the Crisler Center largely thanks to Dawkins’ big game.
Dawkins hit six three-pointers to finish with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting overall. Dawkins’ final three ball gave Michigan a 67-63 lead in overtime with just over a minute remaining to cement the victory.
Dawkins was not considered a big-time prospect out of high school. He was a two-star recruit according to ESPN, and had not scored more than five points in a game this season. Still, at 6’6 with a sweet shooting stroke, it’s easy to see what Beilein liked about him.
It wasn’t all Dawkins, of course. With Illinois leading by 12 with 10 minutes remaining, Michigan star Caris LeVert started facilitate the offense, assisting on three baskets in the next six minutes. LeVert finished with 19 points and five assists on the night. The surprise effort from Dawkins was enough to overcome off nights from Derrick Walton (0-for-8 for zero points) and Zak Irvin (4-of-15 shooting for 13 points).
It’s a tough loss for Illinois. Sophomore wing Malcolm Hill scored 19 in defeat.