The (#2) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won them both. At the same time, (#1) Duke got hammered on the road by (#25) Miami (FL), so it sure looks like Michigan is going to be ranked #1 in the AP Poll this week!
The two games that Michigan played last week were good, solid wins against middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams. On Thursday (01/24/2013), they beat Purdue 68-53 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/27/2013), they beat Illinois 74-60 in Champaign. The two wins raise UM’s record to 19-1, 6-1 in Big Ten play. They are tied for 1st place in the Big Ten.
In both games, Michigan fell behind early, but didn’t panic. In fact, Purdue actually had a 1-point lead (33-32) at halftime, the only time UM has trailed at halftime at home this season. However, in both games, Michigan slowly but surely erased the deficit and built a lead, then protected it. In the Purdue game, Michigan was still behind (40-39) with 15 minutes left, then they went on a quick 10-0 run to get a lead that they never lost. In the Illinois game, Michigan led for most of the game, but it was close (2-4 points) for most of the 1st half. In the 2nd half, UM pushed the lead out to double digits, and mostly kept it there. They did let Illinois get within 4 points (41-37) with 16:41 left in the game, but that’s when Michigan pulled away.
The stats for the Purdue game are much nicer than the ones for the Illinois game. In the Purdue game, Michigan shot pretty well overall (27-for-55 = 49.1%), and pretty well from 3-point range (7-for-16 = 43.8%). They shot free throws pretty well (7-for-10 = 70.0%), and they won the rebounding battle (35-29) and the turnover battle (10-12). Michigan shot pretty well overall in the Illinois game (31-for-59 = 52.5%), but not so well from 3-point range (5-for-15 = 33.3%). They were mediocre from the free-throw line (7-for-13 = 53.8%), they lost the rebounding battle (35-36), but they won the turnover battle (12-15). Overall, they played well enough to win, but not up to the level they set in some of their more impressive victories. Still, a win is a win. Just ask Duke.
Individually, 3 players hit double figures in both games:
- Trey Burke – 15 points vs. Purdue, and 19 vs. Illinois.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. – 13 and 12 points.
- Glenn Robinson III – 12 and 10 points.
- Nik Stauskas – 12 and 16 points.
The 5th starter, Jordan Morgan had 6 points vs. Purdue, but 0 points vs. Illinois. He only played 91 seconds in the Illinois game before he injured his ankle. He didn’t return to the game. His status isn’t known at this time.
The bench players had mixed success scoring:
- Spike Albrecht – 0 and 0 points.
- Max Bielfeldt – DNP and 4 points. Max had to play a lot more minutes in the Illinois game, with Morgan out, and he did fine.
- Jon Horford – 2 and 7 points. Jon also had to play a lot more minutes in the Illinois game, with Morgan out, and he also did fine.
- Caris LeVert – 2 and 0 points.
- Mitch McGary – 6 and 6 points.
Michigan only got 10 points from the bench in the Purdue game, but they got 17 points vs. Illinois, which is more like it.
After a couple games against lower-division teams, Michigan has one more relatively easy game, then they start a brutal 4-game stretch. This week, they play Northwestern on Wednesday (01/30/2013, 6:30 p.m., BTN) in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (02/02/2013, 9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN) they play at (#7) Indiana. They should beat Northwestern fairly easily, but the game at IU will be Michigan’s toughest test yet. If they can win that one, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten title.
Check back next week to see what happened, and why.