ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- The opening 35 seconds of Tuesday night's game between Michigan and Illinois turned out to be a sign of things to come.
The Fighting Illini won the tip and proceeded to be called for a shot-clock violation, setting the tone for a tough offensive night for both teams.
Illinois shot 37 percent, but held the Wolverines to just 25 percent in a 51-44 Big Ten victory.
"That was the prettiest ugly win you'll ever see," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "We didn't do a lot of things right, but we got out of here with a win."
Illinois point guard Demetri McCamey, who finished with 14 points and a career-high nine rebounds, agreed that the game hadn't been a thing of beauty.
"Neither team could make anything, so there wasn't anything for the crowd to get excited about," he said. "This was definitely a night where we just had to keep grinding until we won the game."
The Fighting Illini (18-10, 10-5) were coming off a 2-2 stretch in which they had played four straight Top 20 teams, and were helped Tuesday by facing the struggling Wolverines.
"They missed a lot of shots, and I hope we had something to do with it, but I think that was one of those nights where things bounced well for us and didn't bounce well for them," Weber said. "The one thing we did is play hard, and I think that made a difference. We got all the 50-50 balls."
The Wolverines were terrible offensively all night, shooting 20 percent in the first half and 29 percent in the second. Zack Novak hit four of his 10 3-point attempts, but the rest of the team went a combined 2-for-21 from behind the arc.
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," said Michigan coach John Beilein. "Our kids played their tails off, and we defended the heck out of them, but the basket isn't very big for our guys right now."
Michigan (13-14, 6-9) got 15 points from Manny Harris and 12 from Novak, but still fell back below .500 a season after ending an 11-year NCAA tournament drought. The Wolverines have only scored more than 75 points once in conference play.
"I think right now, guys are shooting not to miss, or hoping they get fouled," Beilein said. "I don't have an answer -- I've done everything I know to do -- but there's got to be something. This can't continue, because we can't win games like this."
The Wolverines fell to 3-5 at home in the Big Ten with one game left.
"Right now, I think we've got to go on the road," Beilein said. "It's a shame, because we get great crowds here, but I think maybe we're stressing ourselves out here."
Illinois had a 6-minute scoreless stretch midway through the first half, but Michigan's shooting woes left it behind 26-18 at the intermission. While Novak was 3-for-5 from 3-point range, the rest of the Wolverines were a combined 3-for-25 from the floor.
Michigan, though, scored the first nine points of the second half to take a one-point lead. The Fighting Illini missed their first nine shots of the period and went over 5 minutes before scoring.
At that point, it was Michigan's offense that collapsed, and Illinois broke the game open with a 15-6 run. Michigan got within 44-40, but an alley-oop from McCamey to Davis with 90 seconds left helped the Fighting Illini hang on.
"That was a big play -- we've missed a few of those this year, but Demetri threw a nice pass on that one," Weber said. "We need to play better than this down the road, but we've had some games where we played well and lost, so it is nice to get a win like this."
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