The (#2) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won them both handily. On Thursday (01/03/2013), they beat Northwestern 94-66 in Evanston, then on Sunday (01/06/2013), they beat Iowa 95-67 in Crisler Arena. The wins raise UM’s record to 15-0, and their conference mark to 2-0. It’s a great way to start Big Ten play.
Even though the two scores (94-66 and 95-67) may look very similar, the games were very different. In the Northwestern game, UM jumped out to an early 20-4 lead and never looked back, but in the Iowa game, Michigan trailed 7-0 after 2 minutes, and still trailed by 4 (23-19) with 6:00 left in the half. The game was tied (29-29) with 3:30 left, then UM went on a very impressive 17-6 run to end the half with an 11-point lead (46-35). Iowa never got any closer in the 2nd half, and UM won going away. UM looked lethargic for much of the 1st half, but once they started their run, they were unstoppable.
The Iowa game was a very important lesson for this young Michigan team, and their fans. UM has had things pretty easy so far this season, leading from start to finish in many games, and winning all 15 of them by an average of about 23 points. They have seen very little hardship, and they haven’t had to play from behind for very long. Iowa gave them a reminder of what it’s like to be in a tense, competitive game, at least for 16:30 of the 1st half. There are plenty of tougher opponents coming up, and soon, and we’ll find out just what this Michigan team is made of, and how well they handle pressure and adversity. So far, they’ve been up to every test, but the tests are going to get a lot harder.
The stats for both games are very nice. Against Northwestern, UM shot really well overall (34-for-57 = 59.6%), and really well from 3-point range (13-for-22 = 59.1%). They shot OK from the free-throw line (13-for-19 = 68.4%), and they crushed NW on the boards (41-25). They tied in the turnover battle (12-12). They shot almost as well overall in the Iowa game (36-for-62 = 58.1%), but not as well from 3-point range (10-for-22 = 45.5%). They shot exactly the same from the free-throw line (13-for-19 = 68.4%). They crushed Iowa on the boards, by almost the same margin as NW (41-26), and they barely won the turnover battle (6-7).
Individually, 4 players hit double figures in both games, which is very impressive:
- Trey Burke – 23 points vs. NW, and 19 vs. Iowa. Trey also had a career-high 12 assists vs. Iowa, for another double-double. One of these assists came on a great play: the Iowa defender was guarding him closely near center court, and he actually managed to poke the ball away from Trey and tried to grab the loose ball. Trey controlled it, and he was mad! He blew past the Iowa defender, drove towards the basket, drew a defender, and passed to Glenn Robinson III for a slam. The look he gave the Iowa defender after that play was classic.
- Glenn Robinson III – 10 and 20 points. Glenn also had 10 rebounds against Iowa, for his first career double-double.
- Nik Stauskas – 10 and 13 points. Nik had a poor week shooting 3-pointers, for him. He “only” shot 2-for-7 at Northwestern, and 3-for-6 vs. Iowa. He’s still shooting 53.7% (44-for-82) for the season.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. – 21 and 19 points. Tim came back from his minor ankle injury strong, after only missing one game.
The only starter who didn’t hit double figures in both games was Jordan Morgan, with 12 points at NW, and 4 points vs. Iowa. However, he did have 13 rebounds in the Northwestern game, for another double-double.
Since both games were under control with 4 minutes left, Coach Beilein played every healthy player on the bench. They had mixed success scoring:
- Eso Akunne – 0 and 0 points.
- Spike Albrecht – 0 and 0 points.
- Max Bielfeldt – 4 and 1 points.
- Caris LeVert – 6 and 9 points. Caris is looking more and more comfortable out there, and he’s in the regular mix of players. He’s played some point guard, and he’s done just fine.
- Blake McLimans – 0 and 2 points.
- Mitch McGary – 4 and 5 points. Mitch also had 8 rebounds vs. NW and 11 rebounds vs. Iowa. However, that doesn’t tell the story. Mitch sparked the run that turned the Iowa game around with one of the sweetest blocked shots I’ve ever seen at any level of basketball. An Iowa player was flying to the hoop for a big dunk, when Mitch went up with him and slammed it away to a Michigan player for a fast-break dunk on the other end. It really got the crowd going. Mitch also got a defensive rebound with 3 seconds left in the 1st half, dribbled it to mid-court, and found Glenn Robinson III for a lay-in at the buzzer. This also got the crowd going.
- Corey Person – 4 and 0 points.
- Matt Vogrich – 0 and 3 points.
The Big Ten season marches on, and Michigan has two games this week. On Wednesday (01/09/2013, 7:00 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Nebraska in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/13/2013, 1:30 p.m., CBS), they play at Ohio State. Nebraska is not very good, and I expect Michigan to beat them easily, but the OSU game will be Michigan’s toughest game so far this season. It’s really hard to beat OSU in Columbus, but we still don’t know how good this Michigan team really is. We’ll find out on Sunday.
Check back next week to see what happened, and why.