[photo: J.D. Scott (@jdscottphoto)]
They say you have to make your shots to win in basketball, and Michigan went nearly 10 minutes in the second half without a field goal. They say Bryant McIntosh is going to distribute well but not carry the offense, and Northwestern went nearly 10 minutes in the second half with nobody but McIntosh scoring. And when McIntosh found himself isolated on Mo Wagner, picked his moment, drove, and scored his 14th point in a row, they said it’s not over, though I haven’t the faintest idea why.
On Michigan’s next possession Charles Matthews—who put up a brutal 56 ORtg while using a quarter of Michigan’s possessions in this game according to Kenpom—took a terrible step-back long two that bounced out with zero chance of a friendly rebound. That made it a minute left with the Wildcats up 58-52. And unlike some people, Northwestern makes their free throws.
For the first time in weeks it was Michigan who started hot, breaking down the Northwestern zone defense early with transition baskets and getting Mo moving through the lane. However the early 9-1 run was costly, as Isaiah Livers fell awkwardly on his left foot after a layup. He would not return.
John Beilein says he thinks Isaiah Livers has a sprained ankle, but not sure. Said Livers at least trying to warm up for second half is encouraging, but obviously wants to look at it more.
— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) February 7, 2018
Absent Livers, and with Matthews having an awful night, Jordan Poole and Duncan Robinson played more than normal minutes. Neither had the kind of shooting night that can make up for their respective defensive issues. Northwestern climbed back after that by crashing the boards, but still managed to head off Michigan’s constant attempts to push the floor. The Wildcats also soon found the chink in Michigan’s defense as cross-court passes got a bunch of open looks from three; only half went in, but it provided enough offense to get them to the end of the first half down one possession.
Northwestern flipped the script in the second half, going on a 10-0 run after a hard foul by Gavin Skelly that the officials waved off after a lengthy review (Look, Steratore loves his reviews, okay?) From there it was McIntosh. Matthews’s drive attempts were definitively suppressed, forcing a batch of turnovers to extend the drought. Michigan finished an abysmal 5/22 from three-point range, with only a few more Mo cuts to the basket and your standard crazy MAAR drive-whistles forcing a rare change in Michigan’s tally.
They say this happens to everybody on the road, even if “road” was a 50/50 abandoned building next to the airport. I say if you’re a three-reliant team hitting under 23% from the arc and Bryant McIntosh turns into Trey Burke it’s probably just not your night.
[Click the JUMP for the boxscore—lol no you’re not reading that box score you’re going to make basketball comments]