"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
After his team held Michigan to their lowest point total of the season, Nebraska coach Tim Miles revealed his bold defensive strategy: the power of statistics.
"We thought, hey, they've been shooting the three great. They've got to return to the mean."
Did they ever. Michigan connected on just 3-of-17 three-pointers, and the Huskers succeeded in taking away their transition game, holding the Wolverines to a single fast break bucket. The Crisler Center crowd expected a blowout; instead, they got a slow-paced affair that was closer than the final score would indicate.
While the Wolverines didn't trail after the opening seven minutes, their lead didn't reach double digits until just 4:39 remained. Up to the final stretch, Miles's plan worked to perfection, with Michigan missing an uncharacteristic number of open looks from deep and failing to get out on the run.
That changed with just under eight minutes to go, when Glenn Robinson III picked Dylan Talley's pocket near the scorer's table, then took flight from not far inside the free throw line for a highlight-reel dunk. After Nebraska responded with a three, Robinson came out of nowhere to tip-slam a missed three by Caris LeVert, snapping the crowd out of a game-long funk and opening a 15-5 Michigan run to close the contest.
Robinson was the only Wolverine to shoot better than 50% on the night, scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting while adding six rebounds. Hardaway, Trey Burke, and Nik Stauskas scored 46 of the team's 48 remaining points, but they also shot a combined 15-for-39 from the field. The Wolverines could not find a rhythm in their half-court sets, tallying just six assists on 21 made shots.
Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan scored just two points between them, but their work on the boards kept Michigan in front—Morgan finished with 11 rebounds (eight defensive), McGary six (three defensive), with the latter repeatedly hitting the deck for loose balls. With just over six minutes left and Michigan holding on to a nine-point lead, McGary threw himself into a pile of three Nebraska Cornhuskers and one orange sphere, coming away with a held ball—possession arrow, Michigan.
As he walked to the other end of the count, McGary threw his hands in the air, summoning perhaps the loudest roar of the night. Moments later, Stauskas found McGary under the hoop, and he banked home a right-handed layup. The Wolverines finally had their double-digit lead, sparked not by Burke and Hardaway, but a pair of freshmen.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, chants of "Beat Ohio" rang out from the Maize and Blue faithful. Michigan survived their first bout with regression, pulling away from a conference cellar-dweller.
If the trend continues on Sunday, they won't be so fortunate.
Yes, and when your starter looks like Nebraska's number 32, you don't win many basketball games. Was he a football OT? Fat!
And they did't play bad, they played at 70%. This is a stretch of 3 games in 6 days, with two being tough road games. You don't think they took it a little easy against Nebraska?
I find it funny that their entire strategy was "hope that the offense has the worst game of the season"
I find it funnier that actually happened and Neb still lost by double digits
Ohio. There was some decent urgency and they responded. Good medicine for Sunday.
You know you've raised the bar when you beat a team by 15 and everyone is talking about how poorly you played. I agree the game was closer than the score, but did anyone at any point really feel like the final outcome was ever in doubt? I know I didn't.
We do need to play better at Ohio. But I ain't scared.
Ya I'd rather this happen tonight than score 95, and then lay an egg @OSU or @Minny.
But when and if this team goes cold against a top tier B1G team, it could be ugly. Especially if the other team is hitting the 3 like Illinois or Minny do occasionally.
Overall though, I think Michigan was just a little less focused than normal as they look forward to the real start of the B1G season.
Speaking of Minny.... y'all watch them at Assembly Hall beating down Illinois? Impressive win. Our guys better be loaded for bear when they head over to Minnesota. No.. loaded for Gopher.
A little perspective on how "terrible" we played. We beat 3 teams in the Big Ten by mre than 15 last year. Those would be Penn State at Crisler (by 18), Wisconsin (in our best game of last year also by 18), and @Nebraska (in an eerily close score of 62-46). So far we've matched that total of 15 pt margin victories in 3 games.
While the basketball team was trying to overcome some problems, it seems researchers from the physics department were overcoming some of their own.
University of Michigan researchers are pleased to announce the discovery of a new element, one that it is believed will bring clean, limitless energy to all of mankind. The large new element sits at the end of the rare-earth metals section of the table, and is the largest, highest energy component known to exist in the universe. It is in fact so rare that University researchers believe they are currently in posession of the only sample on earth. Enough, they say, to power the entire state of Michigan for the next several years.
In the standard table, the new element, McGarium, can be easily identified:
"McGarium is a truly stupifying discovery. We're all very excited down here", said U of M assistant basketball coach and secret physicist Bacari Alexander. "Not only is it an insanely high source of energy on its own, but when added to other efficient, high energy alloys, it tends to increase the output of those alloys by orders of magnitude." Alexander added that drawing energy from McGarium is also a simple process. "A little physical excitation is all it takes. We first discovered its extensive energy output capacity when a visiting researcher from the University of Iowa tripped and accidentally struck our sample. Poor guy was nearly vaporized."
Ongoing research may reveal the origins of McGarium. It is believed to be native to the planet, a fully refined version of the alloy Novakium, first discovered about half a decade ago on a geological survey mission by Dr. John Beilein.
Hate on that chart.
Not saying my science skills are rusty, but upon seeing "Kr" my first instinct was that it represents kryptonite.
front page this
yet they still scored 1.11 point per possession which is way above national average. That tells you how truly ridiculous the offense has been this season. I am glad that Michigan came down to earth a little bit and it's against the worst team in B1G. That allows Beilein to harp on little things for them to focus before going on the road to Columbus and Minneapolois. That's an important stretch for Michigan. OSU is huge because they're OSU and won't be a pushover. OSU is still a threat and present hard matchup defensively. Minnesota have improved a lot from last year. It'd be an interesting matchup of strength vs. strength. Minnesota is really good at offensive rebounding and getting to the FT line while Michigan is really good at defensive rebounding and does not foul a ton.
and chances are some or all of those losses will be due to lousy shooting. It doesn't matter until we get to the NCAAs.
our program was mired in mediocrity and always threatening to be on the verge of breaking through, well we have now and people act like we've been Duke or Kentucky or something.
I wouldn't trade this line-up for any other in the country, would any of you?
We don't need to be on fire shooting to win a game, we can win any kind of game, tonight proves it, give Neb credit, they seem to have a good coach if they can hold on to him he just might build something there.
If 2 of Nik's 3's had gone in, instead of going halfway in and out and Mitch's dunk goes in instead of bricking it and we make 4 more of the 9 FT's we missed, then this "sluggish" night have been a 27 point victory, not bad for sluggish.
ohio has to worry about us, they have a tougher task than we do, beat ohio!
brought up in these comments....this game couldnt have come at a better time really. Sloppy game, still won by double digits but maybe a bit of a "whoa ok, cant play like this and beat ohio"
Good win, keep it going boys.
This was a classic trap game against one of the weakest teams in the B1G right before going on the road to Ohio and Minny. Don't read anymore into it than what is on the surface. Winning trap games by 15 points is another sign of where this team is headed.