Saturday, December 7, 2013

Michigan 107, Houston Baptist 53: Houston, You Have A Problem

No. 22 Michigan 107, Houston Baptist 53

Coming off of a 3-3 record in Michigan's last six games, a visit from Houston Baptist was perhaps just what the doctor ordered. 

However, after a particularly brutal loss at Duke, in which the Wolverines couldn't throw it in the ocean for most of the game, a sluggish start this afternoon against the 3-5 HBU Huskies was far from a surprise. 

The Huskies battled Michigan to a 9-9 tie early, but it was a productive opening few minutes for Mitch McGary, who scored five points --including a nifty free throw line jumper-- and an assist to Nik Stauskas. 

A Derrick Walton triple just over four minutes in gave the Wolverines a 12-9 lead, a lead which they held for the remainder of the game. 

Free from the stifling perimeter defense of Duke, the Wolverines rattled off a 3-for-5 mark from beyond the arc to start the game. The bad news? The Huskies started 3-for-3 themselves, not to mention a 7-for-7 from the field overall. The Huskies couldn't miss; but, one assumed that they wouldn't continue to hit those shots. 

A quick 8-2 run, including a pair of triples from Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, extended the lead to 29-19. 

HBU's 2-3 zone did little to impede Michigan's quest for points; if they game were on ice, HBU's defense might have been called a sieve. The Wolverines dribbled through HBU's zone, shot over it and rendered it irrelevant by simply beating it down the floor in transition. 

The Huskies finished 7-for-14 from the field on the heels of their 7-for-7 start; ordinarily, 50 percent would be pretty good. Against Michigan, however, it meant going into the half down by 26, 60-34. 

Defense was optional in the first half, for both teams. Even so, unless you're John Beilein, it's difficult to be too upset about a half in which the Wolverines scored 60 points. 

Stauskas and Robinson led the way for Michigan with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Stauskas went 5-for-7 from 3-point land, with one his two misses, amusingly, being perhaps the best look of the seven attempts. 

The second half continued on like the first, save for one scary play that resulted in Mitch McGary on the floor in pain. McGary went up to block Cody Joyce's shot. Both Joyce and McGary crashed to the floor, and McGary's left leg buckled under him. 

After a harrowing 10 seconds or so, McGary got up and seemed to be fine. He tried to wave Beilein off, but McGary was forced to the bench, but not before he took the time to exhort the Maize Rage to make some noise, as if Michigan State or Ohio State were in Ann Arbor and not HBU. 

The second half was showtime for the Wolverines, with McGary leading the fast break time and time again. Without revisiting the tape, it's likely that McGary led more fast breaks in this game than did Walton. If Michigan were to start every position with a defensive rebound and a little momentum and some spacing, Mitch McGary, 6-foot-10 point guard, would be only a somewhat laughable notion. 

McGary finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block, a prolific afternoon for a guy who, more than any other Wolverine, simply needs minutes at this point. 

As always, level of competition caveats aside, this game once again showed how the Wolverines look much better when they can run. In a way, this is faint praise, as it an indictment of the Wolverines' half court offense. During Big Ten play, everyone knows that Michigan will need to convert on a much greater percentage of its half court sets if they are going to be anything better than 9-9 or 10-8 in conference play. 

Beilein got the walk-ons in the game with a few minutes remaining, and the Wolverines cruised to a 107-53 victory, moving to 6-3 on the season. Michigan next hits the Crisler Center floor next Saturday against what will likely be a No. 1 in the country Arizona squad. 

No comments:

Post a Comment