Sunday, January 5, 2014

Michigan moves to 2-0 in the Big Ten, tops Northwestern 74-51

Michigan 74, Northwestern 51

The only questions coming into this afternoon's game against Northwestern revolved around Glenn Robinson III's injury status and the magnitude of Michigan's margin of victory against the lowly 7-7 Wildcats. 

On the first point, the Wolverines got a boost when Robinson took the floor as one part of Michigan's starting five. With that question settled, only one remained. 

However, nine minutes into the game, the Wildcats led, 10-9, with the Wolverines having shot just 33 percent and turned it over three times already. 

Northwestern's packed in defense gave Michigan trouble, as the Wolverines couldn't hit their outside shots early in the game. Northwestern's defensive strategy was not unlike that of a World Cup underdog, playing conservatively with one striker and hoping to beat a more talented team 1-0 via one swift counterattack goal. 

Chris Collins's Wildcats did their best to slow the game down, walking the ball up the floor and taking as much out of each 35-second possession as possible. However, Michigan eventually decided it was having none of it, and that's when it started to build up a bit of a lead. 

Michigan went into the half up 31-24, but it felt as if the Wildcats had played Michigan to a tie. Regardless, the story of the first half was Jordan Morgan. The fifth-year big man scored eight points and reeled in five boards while flashing the transition speed that has made him a fan favorite over the years. 

When the two teams stepped onto the floor in the second half, Northwestern would try to keep the game slow, while the Wolverines would once again put the pedal to the metal. Either way, the Wolverines would have play better defense, especially Nik Stauskas. Matched up against NU star Drew Crawford, Crawford scored 13 of NU's 24 first half points. 

Michigan's 1-of-8 mark from beyond the arc also conspired to keep the game close; the Wolverines would have to connect more frequently than that in the second half if they planned on pulling away before the game's final minutes. 

The two teams traded 5-0 runs to start the second frame; clearly, the Wildcats did not plan on going away without a fight. 

Fortunately for the Wolverines, Northwestern's offensive attack could most generously be deemed "punchless." Sanjay Lumpkin missed a layup that would have cut Michigan's lead to four; after that, Michigan slowly pulled away. 

Michigan's offense was far from a well-oiled machine, but its defense did get a little better, as Crawford had zero second half points by the 8-minute media timeout. 

A pair of monstrous transition dunks from Robinson later, and Michigan found itself up by 16 with under eight minutes to play. 

The lead continued to balloon, as the Wildcats simply did not have enough to make a serious push. Northwestern might be a tough team to play in two or three years, but, for now, a last place finish in the conference appears to be a certainty. 

With the 74-51 win, Michigan moves to 10-4 (2-0) on the season. Nik Stauskas led the way with 18 points, while Jordan Morgan played Crazy Eights (8 points, 8 rebounds). 

Michigan heads to Lincoln on Thursday, where they'll face the 8-6 (0-2) Nebraska Cornhuskers. 

No comments:

Post a Comment