It was your typical trap game. Playing 51 hours after a season-defining road win in East Lansing, Beilein’s clearly exhausted Michigan squad barely scraped together 20 points in the first half. Then, as trap games go, they erased the 10-point deficit right out of the break, pushed it to a 10-point lead thanks to a little-used freshman sparkplug, lost the 10-point lead, went down by 1 point with 3.5 seconds, and won on two MAAR free throws, just another couple of points in a career that’s seen a thousand of them.
— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) January 16, 2018
Michigan certainly came out like they’d just played the biggest game of their season two days ago, missing layups, dunks and open threes as the Terps opened a 30-20 deficit at the half. In the frame the Wolverines shot just 31% from the field without getting to the line. MAAR in particular was scuffling,
Maryland, on five days rest, was able to collect a few early buckets in transition and capitalize on more than a few bounces. Michigan played strong defense, forcing the Terps to use the entire shot clock and take five desperation heaves—their eight points off of those low-percentage attempts were most of the 10-point difference in the half.
As Mr. Bridges noted after Saturday’s game, Michigan doesn’t really focus on toughness. Yet for the second time in three days these non-toughness-focusing players erased a halftime deficit out of the break. Zavier Simpson sparked the comeback with a few brilliant series, one a defensive set in which he cut off an Anthony Cowan drive, fought through a screen, knocked the ball out of bounds, assisted on a bad shot, and collected the rebound. Down three Z drove the length of the court, released a floater from the top of the paint, and sank the and-one to tie it 30-30.
Then in came Jordan Poole.
“Poole’s B1G eFG%: 70.6” —Ace [Marc-Grégor Campredon]
If the Purdue game was a taste, this was a coming out party for Michigan’s (arguably) most talented freshman. Poole immediately showed his characteristic awareness for the arc. In one sequence he sank a transition three, blocked a Maryland attempt at the same, and got back down to deliver Z’s drive and kick. In minutes Michigan had a 45-41 lead. Later he’d hint at his ceiling as a creator with a beautiful bounce-pass that set up a Teske and-one and pushed Michigan’s lead to 8.
Jordan Poole nicknamed his 2K player The Microwave, and himself: ‘Hey, shoutout to Vinnie Johnson.’
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 16, 2018
With Z’s backups struggling and Poole hot, Beilein experimented with a MAAR-Poole-Matthews lineup. This didn’t look bad—it got Wagner an open top of the key 3PA (he missed). It also opened up transition lanes for Maryland. A pair of Wagner free throw misses and a small Maryland run on two crazy buckets forced a timeout with the lead cut to four, setting up the ho hum finish.
Under two minutes, MAAR missed a layup and Wagner picked up a foul on a rebound as Maryland cut Michigan’s lead to 2 with 1:19 remaining. On the ensuing possession Matthews fought his way out of a trap, and Michigan passed it around the horn to get MAAR an open three and Michigan a two-point lead. The teams then traded layups, then with 20 seconds left Cowan sank an improbable line drive three, Z missed a pair of free throws, and Kevin Heurter sank one of his signature ladder triples to put Maryland ahead a point with 3.5 seconds left.
In typical trap game fashion, Isaiah Livers hit MAAR on a perfect deep flag route. Abdur-Rahkman, at 998 career points, tripped over a Terp and picked up the foul. The rest was academic.
Michigan escapes their murderous stretch at 2-1 (that shoulda been 3-0) with a tournament resume, and now has a few days to rest before their Thursday tilt in Lincoln, followed by Rutgers at home.
[After the jump: a box score, more photos by MG, some favorite tweets, and at some point you might want to breathe]
Photos by MG:
This is one sequence:
Turgeon: “They’re impossible to guard. Let me say that again: They’re IMPOSSIBLE to guard with Wagner."
— Max Marcovitch (@Max_Marcovitch) January 16, 2018
"We do practice it, but we usually mess it up." - John Beilein on late-game play. Helps that Isaiah Livers was a baseball player at K-Zoo Central.
— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) January 16, 2018