Michigan Basketball: Wolverines at Gophers — Wrap-up — Barn Better
At the fabled Williams Arena, there was a basketball game that non-rooting observers had to like watching. For fans of Michigan and Minnesota there were times that were likeable and times that were not. In the end, Michigan earned a tough road win against a rugged team in a rugged league, 83-75. The Wolverine record is now 4-1 in the league and 17-1 overall.
At times watching this game was like settling into a zone of bliss as in watching the end of Gotterdammerung, and at other times it was more like getting an estimate for transmission repair.Michigan came out of the gate much better than the previous game against Ohio State. Hardaway was the catalyst as Michigan built an early lead that extended out to ten points.
Then Michigan let up on defense with two easy three-point looks, not even contested, and an easy entry pass inside. The ten-point lead shrank to two points. As the half drew near, Michigan scored a couple of key baskets to build the lead to six points at the break.
Overall, Michigan again did not defend the perimeter well at all, the defenders were late and fought underneath, and the Gophers took good advantage. At the other end of the spectrum, Minnesota gave up unforced turnovers and Michigan scored to gain advantage enough to obtain control. Michigan did prevent major damage underneath limiting the Gophers main strength, offensive rebounding.
In the second half, Michigan had a five-minute spurt that put the gophers down by more than 15 points and put the Gophers in a hole that was never overcome. But the last five minutes was like watching a chess match where a player has a one pawn advantage at the very end of the game and cannot secure the easy win. Michigan missed foul shots, but Minnesota missed more. Trey Burke had a chance to melt 35 more seconds off the clock and nearly seal the game, but instead he missed a three-point shot. Things got sloppy and rough, but Michigan prevailed.Somewhat distressing is how Michigan played tentative in the last five minutes against the full court pressure and players got themselves in difficult positions that resulted in Michigan turnovers.
There were a lot of players that contributed. Hardaway played big time on offense, but not on defense, and Burke was solid. The two inside guys, Morgan and McGary, did enough to be positive contributors. The inside defense had a few bad moments but overall, these guys took away a big part of Minnesota’s success. Stauskas struggled some early but recovered enough to at least be a positive contributor. LeVert hit a big shot at just the right time.
Things got a little rough, but life in the Big Ten will go on as always. One side benefit was watching two coaches that do things the way all coaches should in the arena of college basketball. Tubby and JB may have detractors, but the complaints will never be about ethics or player treatment. Both coaches are credits to the profession.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
Go Blue — Wear Maize!