Michigan Basketball: Michigan at Michigan State — Wrap-Up
Everyone Did Their Job — Big Second Half Showed Tougher Weasels
In what was a very entertaining basketball game, Michigan won a tough victory at the Breslin Center 80-75. This puts Michigan solely in first place with a 7-0 record. Two weeks ago the thought of running the gauntlet and winning a tri-fecta against top ten teams was simply improbable. In this league things change. Michigan played superb against Wisconsin, hangs on against Iowa down the stretch, and outplays the Spartans in the second half for a temporary “atta boy.”The major theme in this article is how every Michigan player did their job. Every Michigan player at least made a positive contribution to the victory. Every player clearly played for the team with the objective of winning the game. There were no guys putting up shots to simply gain numbers. Whatever five were on the floor looked out for each other.
There were warts, but princes outnumbered frogs. The first half transition game broke down halfway through the period. Irvin put up a couple of bad shots that went the other way in a hurry. Michigan State got most of the offensive rebounds in the first half and held a five-board advantage going to the locker room. There were a couple of the soft passes with bad angles that Harris got his hands on. The ball got into the middle by pass or dribble pretty easy for inside points. Harris was given room to go up for good looks on his shots. State’s defense rattled Michigan for a five minute, or so, period of time, causing Michigan’s fast start to hit a green wall. Michigan struggled to run an offense. But enough three-pointers hit the bottom of the net to avoid a big hole.
Hearing all of the above, one would guess that Michigan was in a big hole. Well, almost so, but at the end of the first half Michigan clawed back to be in position to make a run.
And indeed, the Wolverines did make a run. The primary difference was toughness mixed with poise. The offense worked hard and clicked with the exception of GRIII, who just had one of those games where it simply did not happen. He may have seemed to evaporate, but clearly the Spartan strategy was to focus on Stauskas and Robinson. Stop those two and the Green guys win. Well Robinson was pretty much stopped (9 points), but Stauskas hit some big daggers to hold the guys in Blue close until taking the lead late in the game.Caris LeVert was not an on-off switch, but instead had a nice controlled dimmer switch that had the light on steady and bright enough to keep Michigan in it, especially in the second half. He went to the hole like a rabbit with an agenda. Without Payne and Dawson guarding the middle, and with two defenders locked solidly on Robinson and Stauskas, good spacing and Caris’ quickness was a strong offensive option. Caris took advantage and the fouls on Michigan State started to pile up, a big factor in the end game.
Caris had 17 points and 8 rebounds. The foul shooting was much improved over other pressure situations this season. The eight rebounds were obtained mainly in the middle of the mess in the defensive lane.
Stauskas hit for 19 points but importantly made five of six three pointers against strong defensive pressure. He let the game come to him, picked his spots, and dropped the hammer.Walton Jr. did not show any back off at all. He showed how explosive he can be. His nineteen points certainly were not accounted for in the Spartan game plan. Walton made a couple of tremendous drives and unlike other critical moments this year, stepped to the line and kept the end game out of Michigan States’ control.
Morgan had four points and five rebounds, but his shining moment may have been showing some toughness on the floor, including backing his teammate at the expense of a technical. He also helped keep Coach Beilein out of later trouble at the four-minute mark. That seemed to provide the Wolverines with some incentive to mix it up and go for the throat.Spike Albrecht did what he always does, he did not hurt UM too much, although he was clearly out-manned by the Spartan guards.
Coach Beilein pulled a nice little trick late in the first half keeping Morgan and Horford on the bench to save inside fouls for the second half. Bielfeldt held the fort and helped Michigan get to the break in position to make it a game.
The rebounding turned after halftime, Michigan shot about 8 percent better in the second half, and some key blocks made enough of a difference to allow Michigan to catch the Spartans late in the game.
Poise was demonstrated by Michigan only committing 11 turnovers and making 25 0f 30 foul shots.
Everyone played a part, and once Michigan regrouped a very impressive second half entailed. Perhaps importantly, Michigan still looks to be improving.
Purdue is next for Michigan and Iowa for Michigan State, neither can afford to slip, as almost half way through the conference season these two teams have some separation from the rest of the pack. Knock on wood, this is the Big Ten where standings rise and fall faster than the stock market.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
Go Blue — Wear Maize!