Michigan 67 (4-0), Pittsburgh 62 (4-1)
Combine Michigan's first legitimate opponent of the season with the venue that is Madison Square Garden and you've got a game that produces a vicious cocktail of excitement and apprehension.
Pitt started the game with a long possession that resulted in a long 2 for Lamar Patterson reeling in an offensive board. Michigan's offense wasn't clicking early, with a missed three from THJ and a wild 2 from Burke. However, Burke converted on a nice pullup in transition after shaking James Robinson out of his shoes about halfway between the 3-point line and halfcourt.
As Dakich's complaining demonstrated, the play earlier was a bit choppy due to some ticky tack foul calls. Through four minutes of play, Michigan was down 4-2, shooting 1-5 from the field; the rims, as always, are unforgiving at MSG.
After another offensive board, this time from Talib Zanna, Patterson knocked one in from 3-point land, putting the Panthers up 7-2. Needless to say, it wasn't an ideal start for Michigan, who looked fairly lifeless on the offensive end and less than tenacious on the defensive glass.
A corner trey from Stauskas gave Michigan some life. Glenn Robinson blocked a shot at the rim and Jordan Morgan took a charge on the following defensive possession. Pitt was able to get a couple easy buckets as the half went on, but things generally weren't easy when they were forced to execute their halfcourt offense.
After a Michigan steal, Mitch McGary took it about three quarters the length of the floor for a smooth finger roll, a brief flash of the potential we have with McGary as perhaps a Jordan Morgan 2.0 type player.
It wasn't a smooth game on either end, as expected. Both teams started to heat up a bit from the outside as the half drew to a close. THJ pulled up for a nice jumper from just past the free throw line in the secondary break. After a rough start, Michigan was shooting 50% from the field with three minutes left in the half, although only 1-7 from 3.
Michigan went into the half down 29-33 after a mostly forgettable and extremely choppy 20 minutes of play. Most disconcerting was the fact that Trey Burke was 3-8 from the field and Michigan only had 3 total assists as a team.When Michigan scored, it wasn't via the natural flow of the offense; it either came off the bounce or in transition. Michigan has NBA talent to be sure, but this isn't the NBA we're playing in just yet. Going forward, Michigan will need to attempt to remain within the system more than it did in the first half of this game.
Michigan: 0.94 PPP
Pitt: 0.88 PPP
Michigan went down 38-31 early in the half only to rally on the back of a pair of Stauskas jumpers and another from Burke. Michigan even switched things up a bit on defense, moving to the 1-3-1 for a brief stretch, which, if you'll read Michigan previews from national writers, is most definitely Michigan's base defensive set. Snark aside, the zone did seem to work (and Michigan actually went back to it at the 10 minute mark).
After shooting zero free throws in the first half, Pitt got the benefit of a couple block calls in quick succession on THJ. Speaking of Tim, his 3-point shooting came down in a big way. After coming into the game shooting an absurd 73% from 3, he shot 1-7 from downtown in this one. He did finish 6-13 from the field overall, however, good for 16 points, largely due to him attacking the basket. Like I said all of last season, SEARCH AND DESTROY, TIM.
All of Michigan's 38 second half points came from Burke, THJ, Robinson III and Stauskas. Just FYI, two of those guys are true freshmen, playing their fourth non-exhibition college game, in Madison Square Garden no less. I think we might have something there.
THJ hit a jumper to put Michigan up 55-50 with 3:30 to go. The Panthers didn't score again until there was only 1:15 left to go in the game.
There were a couple shaky moments at the end --including a Pitt foul on a steal attempt that didn't look like a foul at all, with Michigan only up 3-- but Michigan hit their free throws and came away with a solid, if somewhat ugly, win in MSG.
I'll have more comprehensive recaps than this one up in the future, with player bullets and whatnot (this one is admittedly rushed for various reasons). I will be at MSG for Friday's championship game against Kansas State, so it will be fun to watch a Bruce Weber team try to "run offense" in person.
On a serious note, Michigan pulled out a solid, grit-astic win against a very B1G-esque team, which bodes well for the conference schedule. Michigan's freshmen looked good and not at all overwhelmed (for the most part), and despite Trey Burke's struggles from the field, Michigan was able to gut it out to remain undefeated.
Also, like the Michigan fans at MSG, I would like to remind everybody that we are playing some team on Saturday, and hey let's beat them.
/#BEATOHIO chant at a basketball game against Pitt