Michigan basketball, playing their first game as a #1 ranked team in 21 years, backed up the hype with another dominating conference win. The Wolverines (20-1, 7-1) started off hot and never yielded against a powerless Northwestern team (12-10, 3-6). Behind 18 points and 8 assists from Trey Burke, Michigan ended up with a 68-46 win.
How They Won
Michigan has been excellent all year long at protecting the basketball and not committing fouls and tonight was no exception. The Wolverines coughed up the rock just 2 times on the night (0 in the 1st half) and were whistled for only 9 fouls. When you combine that with their extreme offensive efficiency, they are a nearly impossible team to beat.
The Wolverines, shot 25-49 (51%) from the field compared to just 19-51 (37.3%) for the Wildcats. Burke’s 18 point effort was joined by 3 other players in double figures. Jon Horford, starting for the injured Jordan Morgan, cashed in on his playing time with 10 points and 8 rebounds. Glenn Robinson III had 13 points and Nik Stauskas dropped 11.
A team like Northwestern has to get hot from long range to beat a powerful opponent such as Michigan. The Wolverines stepped up their game on the defensive end, holding Northwestern to 4-19 shooting (21.1%) from deep. Michigan also forced two shot clock violations in the 1st half.
Northwestern did what a few teams have done against Michigan, and that’s trying to slow the pace way down and make Michigan earn every bucket. In the end, Bill Carmody’s crew suffered the same fate as Nebraska and Purdue – a blowout loss.
Trey Burke – Trey had a vintage night. The 8 assists to just 1 turnover are becoming the normal stat line that fans have come to expect out of #3. Burke didn’t hoist as many shots as he had over his past 5 games and his efficiency returned as a result. He was 6-11 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. He added 4 assists and 2 steals to his line.
Jon Horford – You have to love what the redshirt Sophomore was able to pull off in his first start of the season. Of Michigan’s big men, Horford has the most skill in the post on offense and the best shot-blocking ability on defense. Along with his 10 points and 8 boards, he added 3 blocked shots and was 3-5 from the field and 4-5 from the free throw line. When Morgan returns, hopefully on Saturday, it’s safe to say that Horford has locked in some regular playing time nonetheless.
Glenn Robinson III – His effectiveness and ability to pick his spots on the offensive end continues to grow. He was 6-7 from the floor for 13 points to go along with 2 rebounds. Over his last 3 games, he is 16-21 (76.2%) shooting the basketball.
News and Notes
Mitch McGary didn’t log extra minutes in Morgan’s absence. John Beilein appears content to keep his workload in check and around the 20 minute/game mark. With the high rate of energy that McGary plays with, it seems wise to keep his legs fresh for what hopes to be a deep run in March and early April for this team. McGary logged his 4th double-digit rebounding game of the season. He had 11 tonight.
Stauskas busted out of his mini slump shooting the 3. He knocked down his first 3 triples of the night before missing his last 2 to end the night 3-5. He was playing with all kinds of swagger, maybe more than he usually does.
Until now, Michigan had never hit the 20-win plateau in the month of January in school history. The closest another team ever came was in 1986 when they won their 20th game on February 6th.
This is the 25th time Michigan basketball has won 20 or more games in a season and it has occurred in 7 of the last 10 seasons.
Michigan’s 2 turnover game tied the national low this season. Their first turnover came more than 8 minutes into the 2nd half.
This is the one most fans have been waiting for. Fans were keenly aware of their next opponent as they chanted “Beat the Hoosiers” in the game’s final minutes tonight. #1 Michigan will take on #3 Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday night at 9 pm eastern. ESPN will televise the game and it promises to be a true barnburner.
This game marks a 4-game scheduling stretch that this team has been eyeballing since the preseason. After Indiana, Michigan will host Ohio State and then travel to Wisconsin and Michigan State in succession. This season has been a blast, but the fun is just beginning.
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