Photo Credit: Detroit News
It wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing game but Michigan displayed a resilience and toughness that, simply put, we haven’t seen all season. The Wolverines defended Kansas better than any other team but just couldn’t make enough shots down the stretch to pull out the upset. Michigan never led during regulation and the game was only tied twice: at 0-0 and the regulation final of 51-51.
Kansas led 20-7 after 12 minutes of play and it looked like Michigan would struggle to break 25 points for the game. There was no doubt that Michigan was lucky to be that close as the Wolverines could barely run their offense and had few decent looks at the rim. Michigan answered with an 11-3 run over the final eight minutes of the half and somehow trailed by just seven at the intermission despite just barely scoring more than a half point per possession.
A majority of the second half was similar to the first as Kansas made enough baskets to keep Michigan at bay and Michigan never seemed to be able to get the lead under seven points. Then Michigan switched to the 1-3-1 zone, something we have barely seen all year, and the game changed. Kansas was obviously rattled and Michigan closed the game on a 15-6 run over the last 6:38. Morris’ step back jumper in the lane with 34 seconds left was good enough to send the game to overtime.
Kansas was just too much in overtime, even after Novak opened the extra session scoring with a three pointer to give Michigan their first lead of the game. Jordan Morgan fouling out with 3 minutes to play coupled with some huge three pointers by Markieff Morris and Tyrel Reed were enough to end Michigan’s upset hopes.
It was a struggle for Michigan on the offensive end all day. Kansas touts the nation’s #1 defense and the fans at Crisler Arena were provided with a healthy sample of it. The Jayhawks have athletes across the board and play the type of suffocating defense that just doesn’t allow open shots at the basket. Michigan struggled shooting the ball with an effective field goal percentage of just 37% – 49% on twos and 14% on threes. Not only did the Wolverines shoot it poorly, they also turned the ball over on 21% on their trips down the floor.
Michigan was able to stay in the game because of its defense. Michigan held Kansas to .90 points per possession and it was the first time the Jayhawks have been held under 1 point per trip this season. Kansas posted an effective field goal percentage of 39% – 50% on twos & 17% on threes – which was well below its NCAA best season average of 60%. Michigan also held the Jayhawks well under their season average on the offensive glass, pulling down under 30% of their misses, although Kansas did come up with some back breaking offensive boards.
Despite the effort and resilience, it’s tough to be left with anything but disappointment after a loss like that. Michigan unraveled a bit once it went up by three in overtime and Kansas hit some huge shots – these are the possessions that this team will have to learn to win going forward. A win like this (or Syracuse, Purdue, etc) has the potential to dramatically change the outlook of the season but for now we are left in the same spot. Michigan has another chance on Wednesday as the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes head to town.
Visitors: Carlton Brundidge (2011 commit), Glenn Robinson III (2012 commit), Gary Harris (2012), Khaliq Spicer (2012), Sherron Dorsey-Walker (2012), Steve Haney (2013), Derrick Walton (2013), Cha Cha Tucker (2013), and Chris Harrison-Docks (2012) were all at Crisler Arena for today’s game.
Photo Credit: Detroit News
- Darius Morris: It wasn’t his best game by any means but he made some huge plays: 16 points, 7 assists, four rebounds, and four turnovers. The step back jumper in the lane to tie the game was obviously superb, and probably the biggest shot of Morris’ career, but he is still giving away too many possessions. On a side note, the one handed fast ball passes need to be eliminated because they just waste a possession.
- Jordan Morgan: Morgan remains opportunistic around the basket and does a great job of playing off of Darius Morris’ penetration. He played tough physical defense on the Morris twins, who were a combined 12/25 form the field), and really battled. He still doesn’t provide a lot of help side defense and botched up a couple looks near the hoop that could have been layups but it was a very productive outing for the freshman big.
- Zack Novak: If you are looking for a guy that leaves everything on the floor then look no further. Novak played 44 of 45 minutes, scored 12 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds. He didn’t shoot the ball well (4 of 9, 2-7 3pt) but he hit two of the biggest Michigan threes of the game and was great on the glass.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.: A poor shooting day — 5 of 9, 2 of 10 3pt — but Hardaway was as aggressive as he’s been this season. He put the ball on the floor (8 FTA) and also had some nice looks on two point jump shots. His defense has improved ten fold since November and he has learned to use his length and quickness to his advantage, evidenced by two steals and two blocks.
- Stu Douglass: This was Douglass’ second consecutive terrible shooting game: 37 minutes, 2 of 9 (0-5 3pt), 1 assist, and four turnovers. To his credit, Douglass had the best rebounding game of his career pulling down 10 rebounds. At the end of the day Michigan needs Stu to hit some shots, he had better looks today than he did versus Wisconsin but he just couldn’t find the bottom of the basket.
- Jon Horford: Nine minutes for Horford who didn’t really influence the game in limited playing time. He played hard once Morgan fouled out but just doesn’t have the strength to deal with bigger players like the Morris twins.
- Matt Vogrich: 0 for 2 from the floor and his one three point attempt was close but rattled out. Vogrich did have a nice hustle offensive rebound and picked up a steal in 10 minutes of playing time.
- Evan Smotrycz: Smotrycz limited himself with foul trouble (4 in 13 minutes) and never really found his offensive game – 0 of 3 from the floor.
- Blake McLimans: Blake played three minutes and picked up a basket but he is a major liability on the defensive glass. McLimans was abused on a free throw as one of the Morris twins threw him out of the way and grabbed the miss, and just doesn’t have the tenacity or awareness to make a difference on the defensive glass.