Disaster averted. It definitely wasn’t pretty but Michigan escaped Assembly Hall with their first win since 1995. The first thirty minutes or so it looked like every other game at Assembly Hall, everything that could go wrong went wrong.Â I’m not even quite sure how it happened but somehow Michigan pulled out a win. You can talk about how bad Indiana is or what an ugly win it was but in the end a win is a win, especially on the road in the Big Ten. One thing I’m not going to do is excuse any poor performances because of last year. This is a different team and if we are serious about making the NCAA tournament this year there is no room for moral victories; losing this game would have been devastating to this season.
The first half was hard to watch. Devon Dumes couldn’t miss, Matt Roth hit a three pointer from about half court, and Michigan was down 17 at the half. Indiana shot 50% from the field and 62.5% from long range in the first half while Michigan shot just 25% from the field and 16.7% (3-18) from behind the arc.
The second half was a different story. Statistically Michigan dominated the second half but it still seemed like they wouldn’t have enough to win the game. Michigan shot 51.9% from the field (41.7% 3pt) and held Indiana to 36% (22% 3pt) and 20 points in the second half. Michigan needed several breaks down the stretch and finally got a friendly roll on a Laval Lucas-Perry three to tie the game. In overtime Michigan got out to just a big enough lead that they could hold on for the win.
My game ball goes to CJ Lee. The captain came in and made some huge plays in the second half that helped get Michigan over the hump. CJ hit two three pointers and also broke up a 2 on 1 fast break that would have probably put the game away. CJ has bailed out this team several times and he made the plays that a captain is supposed to make, he is definitely a steadying force for this team.
I’m not sure how Michigan won three of the four factors to winning (eFG%, turnovers, and free throws) but they pulled it off. 40 of Michigan’s 61 field goal attempts from long range and they kept chucking away. I thought most of the shots in the first half were pretty good shots and Michigan got rattled because they were missing wide open shots. Of course there were several that were forced, DeShawn and Manny combined for 2-12 and definitely took some questionable shots. They shot a higher percentage inside the arc but their comeback was built on the same three point shots that dug them into a hole.Â Live by the three, die by the three.
Defensively Michigan is really struggling in the first half. Through three Big Ten games opponents are averaging 40 ppg compared to only 25.3 ppg in the second half. I don’t know what it is but there just has to be better defensive intensity in the first half. You can’t let your opponents get out to that big of a lead and shoot over 50% every night because miracles don’t always happen.
A win is a win no matter how ugly and I’m sure a game like this will help bring the team together but it’s not going to get any easier from here on out.Â This team has heart and there is something to be said for avoiding upsets and battling through tough times. Michigan isn’t good enough to dominate teams but they are good enough to beat anyone if they are hitting their shots. They are a team that can give up points in a hurry and also score points in a hurry. That means a lot more roller coaster games are likely in the future, it’s time to throw out the tape and move on to Iowa.
- Manny Harris: 17 points (4-12), 11 boards, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 blocks. Manny really struggled at times tonight, he feels like he has to be the one to make the big shots and takes some very poor three pointers.Â Manny still hit a couple big threes, made most of his free throws, and pulled down a huge rebound late that iced the game. He has struggled in the early Big Ten season but he just has to realize he doesn’t have to do it all.
- Zack Novak: Zack just plays hard. He didn’t shoot the ball that well today but he hit a huge three to start the comeback and was very vocal keeping guys involved. The play that stands out for me is Zack diving to tip a rebound away from an IU player, this is the kind of play that won’t show up in the box score but was so important. I am going to love watching every second that Zack plays for the next four years.
- DeShawn Sims: The (forced) outside shot wasn’t falling for Peedi today but he played very well inside and was 7-11 on 2 point attempts for 14 points to go along with 2 blocks and 2 steals.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: LLP missed some shots early on but he hit the big one to send the game to OT. Laval was 5-12 for 18 points with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. Michigan has to be thankful for Laval because he can get in the lane, he was the only player besides Manny Harris to shoot a free throw.
- CJ Lee: As mentioned above, CJ Lee hit two huge threes in the second and broke up a 2 on 1 fast break late in the game. CJ likely posted great +/- numbers again and I think he is starting to show us why.
- Kelvin Grady: Stepping out of bounds at the end really killed me but overall it was an ok game for Kelvin. Kelvin hit 2 threes and had 4 assists and 1 turnover as well as 5 rebounds.
- Stu Douglass: Stu is in a slump but he is still a freshman, he also hit a three in Michigan’s comeback right after Novak’s as the shot clock was ticking down. 18 minutes, 3 points (1-4), 2 boards, 3 assists, 2 turnovers.
- Zack Gibson: Gibson didn’t follow up his best performance of the year in a very impressive fashion. Zack traveled twice when he was in the game and really looked out of it.
- Dave Merritt: The mostly clueless announcers mentioned that Dave had been under the weather and that probably explains his 2 minutes. Because of Zack and Dave playing only a few minutes, we saw probably the tightest rotation all year in a game where Michigan only played 7 guys for 10 minutes or more.
- Tommy Amaker: I know he’s not a player but on a day when most people will probably point to this as a game that a Tommy Amaker’s team would have lost. I want to give Tommy his props for knocking off Boston College tonight.
Finally, thanks to everyone who showed up at the LiveBlog. Something like 900 people participated thanks mostly to Brian for posting it on MGoBlog. It was fun seeing the anger, excitement, frustration, and overreaction after every play.