GBMWolverine: Michigan Basketball — Michigan at Nebraska — Recap
That Was Different- Michigan Sheds Ugly Label and Beats Nebraska
Well, that was different, Michigan’s bargain basement win against an outmatched Cornhusker squad that is.
The first half was brutal to watch and students watching the game probably had some long uninterrupted study time. Michigan played very good defense and a somewhat offensively disadvantaged Nebraska team made one shot in the first several minutes of the game. The problem is Michigan made only a few threes to hold a 9-2 lead that lasted for a long time.
Cold and colder kept going as a catchphrase to describe the action between the two teams. The only constant was the steady leadership of Zack Novak, who once again kept an eye on the events of the night and intervened with three pointers, tight defense, and solid play at both ends. The dreadful first half ended with the score being 22-15.
Of note is the fact that Nebraska played some zone defense that pushed the Wolverines out and kept the Wolverine point total down. It has been puzzling why more teams have not employed the same strategy against the Wolverines. The probable answer is that few teams spend time on multiple zone preparation in the middle of a season with only a few days to prepare.
Hardaway continued to struggle missing threes and a lay-in. Nebraska did a nice job of neutralizing Trey Burke. Smotzy was Smotzy and scoring chances became precious.
The effect of a Michigan State hang over can be discussed but said discussion is of no meaning since the Big Ten demands both mental and physical toughness. Both are needed on the road in this conference.
In the second half Michigan played much better. Running the floor got some easy buckets and Hardaway still missed a lay up and some threes, but he sliced to the rim scoring and piling up a nice series of assists. He did not force the issue, but at the same time did not give up the attempt to regain his scoring edge. In short Junior contributed well in the second half and could be seen supporting his teammates instead of focusing on his own woes.
Michigan finally wore down Nebraska and the defense loosened as Michigan poured in plenty of threes putting the game out of reach.
Still, even with playing a team with little inside presence, Michigan struggled at times to get rebounds and again gave an opponent several second chances. The defense did not relax until the end of the game and the final result was a convincing and much needed road win.
Next up is Illinois, the Big Ten’s box of chocolates. Michigan better get up on top quick and be ready for periods of hot Illinois play mixed with stretches of funk. Michigan needs to beat Illinois to have a hand up in getting into the top five standing at the end of the league schedule. It will be easier at Ann Arbor than at Champaign. The season is now two-thirds over. Ohio State and Michigan State appear to have a good grasp on first and second. The real battle will be between the 3rd to 8th place spots.
Congratulations to Zach Novak for surpassing the 1,000 point mark in a Michigan Wolverine uniform. He is the 28th 1,000-point/500-rebound player in program history.
Ben Cronin Feature
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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