Michigan 62, Nebraska 46
Rod Beard tweeted this and I thought it was just about the perfect way to summarize everything about this game:
Everything about this game was redolent of high school basketball; the crippling offensive incompetence, the lopsided score, the peanut gallery fans yelling SHOOT THE BALL as the home team "runs the offense," an elaborate series of passes and movements that eventually ends in some final, awkward self-immolating act.
Nebraska's offensive attack (I know I know, it's Family
Guy...also, in German for some reason)
Watching Nebraska try to do anything really took me back to my high school basketball days. They were really that bad, and the score doesn't even begin to reflect how non-competitive it truly was (the Huskers hit a few meaningless shots at the end--including a buzzer beating 3--to up their total to 46). In any case, if you needed any further reminder as to which sport the conference had in mind when it came time to admit Nebraska, I'll give you a hint: it wasn't basketball.
After the game in November, I have a hard time being too disparaging of the Huskers because all of their fans just seemed so gosh darned nice. So, I will talk about Michigan from here on out. Michigan came out firing from 3 (i.e. Novak and Douglass did), and then spent much of the rest of the half fending off whatever offense-destroying virus had infected them by virtue of being on the same court as the inept Huskers. Michigan ended the first half with only 22 points and shot way too many threes against a Husker team that was decent at defending the 3 but downright turrible Kenny at defending the 2. Overall, though, the Huskers did a good job defensively in the first half. The match-up zone gave Michigan some problems, exacerbated by the fact that Michigan kept taking the outside shot that Nebraska was, to an extent, conceding. After the first three triples to start the game, Michigan scored 13 points in the last 13 minutes of the first half, which would be good if this were football.
Here's where you insert the shortest motivational coaching montage of all time. Beilein tells the guys: "Hey, maybe we should go to the basket?" The team: "Okay." Bacari Alexander then fashioned a basketball hoop out of the corn husks strewn around the locker room floor (CORN NEBRASKA HURRR), dunking on it and thereby destroying it in order to really drive the point home. Beneath the veneer of unsuccessfully stifled giggling, the players understood what they needed to do.
And they did it. Game Blouses. Michigan's eFG% in the second half was an outrageous 97.2% (HT: UMHoops). JMo was converting on layup after layup, and, most encouragingly, THJ also joined in on the high-percentage shot fun. Also, Michigan turned the ball over a mere 4 times, and 2 of those were shot clock violations. That's crazy, and awesome, as Rees-ing it up would've been the only thing that would have given the Huskers a chance to win the game.
Matt Vogrich, channeling Kyle Korver
Quite simply, this was a win Michigan needed to have and they got it in impressive fashion (well, most of the second half was decent, I guess, relatively). Nebraska is truly horrid, but a road win is an impressive thing no matter the opponent. More importantly, there were a few encouraging things going on vis-a-vis certain individual players that give us reasons to be optimistic going forward.
Player Bullets, Also Known As "Trey Burke and Those Who Are Not Trey Burke":
- Burke--The all-around very solid performance that has become customary from Trey. Twelve points on 4-7 shooting (3-4 from 3), five boards, 5 assists, and only 2 turnovers...just a very efficient performance in a low possessions game.
- Hardaway--Okay, so 3-11 from the field and another poor performance from 3 (0-6) looks bad on the surface, but if you watched the game you'd know that he was at least trying to attack. Sure, he took some bad threes in the first half (if this was February 2011 they wouldn't be "bad" shots), but he changed it up in the second half. He was also active defensively, drawing a charge. He also pitched in a trio of assists; again, the common refrain of "he can still be a plus player if he does other things well" goes here. But, you have to think that the perimeter shots will start falling eventually...right?
- Novak--The Mayor sank a pair of threes to start the game, pretty much setting the tempo for the rest of the game. Led Michigan with 14 points on 6-9 shooting, in addition to 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and one count of grand larceny (3 steals). Also, a congratulations is in order, as Zack joined the 1,000 point club, making him the 45th Wolverine to do so. Even more impressively, he is only the 28th Wolverine to have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds to his name. Remember what happened when we thought replacing Lee and Merritt might not be a huge deal? Yeah, replacing Zack and Stu is going to be like that but ten times more difficult.
- Douglass--Stu continues to quietly be a very good player for us. Stu pitched in 13 points on 4-7 shooting (3-5 from 3), 2 boards, 3 assists, and 2 steals. That's a good performance for Stu even without the torrid shooting...anything more is just delicious, victory-producing gravy.
- Morgan--This team is so much more fun to watch when Morgan is being found for easy buckets. Eight points on 4-5 from the field, 6 boards, 2 assists, and a steal make for a strong performance from JMo. You would think that Nebraska would've been more cognizant of their matchups after facing a Princetony team like Northwestern last week, but that was not the case, on the break or in the half court. In any case, JMo: keep on keepin' on.
- McLimans--Again, would've been nice to see him get a few more minutes in a blowout such as this one, but whatever. Did have a derpy turnover in garbage time.
- Vogrich--Apparently we had Kyle Korver on loan from the Bulls tonight, which is nice but I'd imagine might result in some NCAA complications. Jokes aside, Diet Novak was en fuego from 3, showcasing the 3-point shooting prowess we were expecting from him when he was recruited. Keep doing that, please.
- Smotrycz--Naturally, after predicting that Smotrycz would score in the double digits he puts up a goose egg. In fact, he didn't even attempt a field goal in 13 minutes, which is a little strange.