Michigan 79, Texas 65

Submitted by Ace on March 22nd, 2014 at 8:35 PM


Um, Texas? You there? [photo via Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]

The scouting report favored Michigan, and this game played to the scouting report.

The Wolverines advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by outshooting Texas considerably, hitting a team NCAA Tournament record 14 of their 28 three-point attempts. The Longhorns connected on less than 40% of their two-pointers, and while they managed to make a second-half surge by overwhelming Michigan on the boards, they simply couldn't keep pace.

After the Longhorns took an early 6-3 lead, Michigan went on a tear, eventually gaining a 30-12 advantage after a Zak Irvin triple—the seventh Wolverine three-pointer in the first 13 minutes. Texas's attempts to push the pace backfired, leading to several open shots for Michigan and a bunch of missed jumpers on the other end. One could only watch agape at the display of offensive firepower:

Said firepower, when combined with a returned aversion to turnovers—Michigan committed just four all game—proved impossible to overcome.

While Texas managed to close the gap to 13 points by halftime, Michigan threatened to blow the game open entirely when the Longhorns opened the second half in a 2-3 zone. Michigan scored eight points in three possessions, with a couple Derrick Walton bombs over the top sandwiched around a Jordan Morgan dunk after gorgeous passing shredded the defense.

Them something strange happened. Rick Barnes called for a slight alteration to the 2-3, shading the backside guard over the middle, and then mixed in a fair amount of 1-3-1. Michigan went without a field goal for nearly six minutes. After Michigan had managed to mitigate Texas's size and rebounding advantage in the first half, the Longhorns dominated the boards in the second, and they pulled within six after an Isaiah Taylor jumper.

That's when Glenn Robinson III made two of the biggest plays of his career, first blowing by Connor Lammert and finishing with an impressive floater, then connecting on a three from the wing on Michigan's next possession to stretch the lead back to 11 with 6:45 to play.

A corner three by Spike Albrecht and a four-point trip after Jordan Morgan drew an intentional foul—while making a basket that was waved off, no less—put the final nails in the coffin. While it took them a while, Michigan eventually took advantage of the holes in the Longhorn zone, and once they did the proceedings were academic.

In addition to Robinson (14 points, 5/10 FG, 5 rebounds) and his second-half heroics, two performances really stood out for Michigan. Nik Stauskas led the team with 17 points on 15 shot equivalents while tying a career high with eight assists; his passing was key in picking apart Texas's zone. Then there was Morgan, who scored 15 (5/7 FG, 7/8 FT), pulled in ten rebounds (5 off.), dished out two assists, and recorded two steals. He limited Cameron Ridley to six points and nine rebounds while giving the Texas behemoth all sorts of trouble with his quickness on the other end.

While Michigan's offensive lull in the second half got a little scary, John Beilein had a response for every one of Rick Barnes's adjustments—yes, this was expected—and it's tough to get worried about the offense when they still managed to score 1.4 points per trip. This was another slow-paced game—just 57 possessions, one more than the Wofford slog—with a score that often belied the comfortable gap between the two teams.

With Duke off the board, Michigan awaits the winner of tomorrow evening's Tennessee/Mercer game. Either way, they've cleared the path for a deep run, and they've already accomplished a lot—did anyone imagine this team moving on to the Sweet Sixteen without much resistance after Mitch McGary went down?

Now, with McGary competing for the role of top cheerleader from the bench, Michigan will be favored to play for a spot in the Final Four regardless of who wins tomorrow. Take a bow, John Beilein.

Comments

RobM_24

March 22nd, 2014 at 8:49 PM ^

Great work by Beilein to make a smooth transition from Walton Jr to Spike. He got good production from both, and he used them both in a manner that magnified their strengths. Great display of shooting and coaching today.

champswest

March 22nd, 2014 at 8:51 PM ^

the sweet sixteen, but I didn't think they would do it with 14-15 point wins.  I also thought that they could win the B1G, but not by 3 games.

Jordan Morgan is playing like a senior who sees his career coming to an end and wants to see it go out in style.  I hope the younger guys are paying attention.

Stauskas impresses me more and more with each passing game.  He is a complete (and smart) player.

I thought that this was are first really good game that we have played since the first Illinois game.

M-Dog

March 22nd, 2014 at 9:34 PM ^

He limited Cameron Ridley to six points and nine rebounds while giving the Texas behemoth all sorts of trouble with his quickness on the other end.

Jordan Morgan is a grown-ass man.

 

kman76

March 22nd, 2014 at 9:52 PM ^

I was very encouraged watching today. Against Wofford they fought through their own sloppy play, while here they came out executing well and kept their foot on the gas. The run they gave up was alarming, but they showed poise and patience in the way they held off TX. In games earlier this season they didn't do that and wound up with a few nail-biters. They look like they can give either Louisville or Witchita St. a run for their money.

Steves_Wolverines

March 22nd, 2014 at 10:04 PM ^

Awesome win. A little bit of nail biting, but very comfortable overall.

Moving on to Indy, I'm debating if I should make the 2 hour drive to support the Maize and Blue...

Go Blue baby!

gte896u

March 22nd, 2014 at 10:04 PM ^

there was no tactical answer for that modified 2-3. im the beginning of the 2nd hald they shredded the traditional 2-3 by getting the ball to the high post repeatedly. once the change was made, it was only individual talent that decided the game. this may have been Rick Barnes best coaching job ever, he just didnt have the horses.

jmblue

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:22 PM ^

Great game.  Excellent performances from just about everyone on the roster.  This team has now met my post-McGary expectations for the tournament, and already exceeded them in the regular season with the Big Ten title.  This is an excellent year no matter what happens from here on out, as far as I'm concerned.

wesq

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:40 PM ^

Jordan Morgan had played one minute through the first to games last year.  Horford/McGary had both passed him for playing time.  After Mitch/GRIII anounced they were coming back there was speculation Morgan may take a grad year transfer.  Helluva game/season for him.  Those who stay...

enlightenedbum

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:52 PM ^

Last year at this time we were all concerned because he didn't even get garbage time against VCU to get his confidence back and we thought his confidence might have fallen apart with the missed tip against Indiana.

 

Of course, a week later, he was making zen decisions to not contest Nutpunch Johnson's last second attempt for Kansas because he knows angles and two weeks later he was taking the Otto killing charge and dunking home the semifinal game.

Everyone Murders

March 23rd, 2014 at 10:40 AM ^

Morgan played one of the smartest and most determined games I've seen this year. He masterfully read how the game was being called, used great footwork, and made the right decision time after time. Our PGs also played brilliantly. But Morgan seemed hellbent on this not being his last game as a Wolverine.

Put another way, just wow.