Different game, same story. This team’s inability to play defense in the Big Ten becomes more evident with every game. This time it was Minnesota that dismantled the Michigan defense with an overwhelming number of easy looks around the basket and offensive rebounds. Michigan appeared to have a chance to make the game interesting down the stretch but was unable to the two or three stops in a row necessary to have a chance.
Minnesota did the majority of its scoring around the paint and finished easily around the basket, with an effective field goal percentage of 68% – 67% on twos and 50% on threes. The majority of the Gophers’ looks were easy layups, dunks, or mid range jumpshots but Minnesota also hit some more difficult shots. Most notably, a pair of Rodney Williams threes in the second half. The same Rodney Williams that made 2 of his first 23 three point attempts this season. Only one Golden Gopher, Gerald Armelin, posted a field goal percentage under 50% for the game.
When Minnesota wasn’t hitting shots, they were pulling down their own misses. Despite missing only 15 shots for the game, the Gophers pulled down 11 offensive rebounds. Some were bad breaks but others were due to a sheer difference in athleticism and size. The most painful offensive rebounds were the three that Minnesota grabbed off of missed free throws. Turnovers kept Michigan in this one as the Gophers coughed it up on 29% of their possessions which resulted in 20 Michigan points.
A point per possession offensively used to be good in the Big Ten, but doesn’t seem as spectacular of late. Michigan scored 1.09 points per possession in this one with an effective field goal percentage of 55% – 67% on twos and 34% on threes. Despite Michigan’s painful scoring drought that spanned two halves and lasted almost eight minutes, those offensive numbers are above average and typically good enough to win. The Wolverines took a lot of threes as 66% of their field goal attempts were from behind the arc. Offensive rebounding was non-existent as Michigan rebounded just 10% of its misses. The Wolverines attempted just 9 free throws but stayed closed because they could limit turnovers, coughing it up on just 11% of their possessions.
Next up is a Thursday game at Michigan State. Michigan hasn’t won in East Lansing since 1997 and likely won’t break that streak on Thursday as the losing streak continues. The streak is now six games and Michigan will be facing a Michigan State team that desperately needs a win after a pair of losses.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.: This was one of Hardaway’s best games of the season as he finished with 20 points on 6 of 14 (4-10 3pt) shooting with three rebounds and a steal in 40 minutes. It wasn’t mistake free basketball but Hardaway did a great job early on of attacking the basket including a an up and under layup and a pull up jumper on the baseline.
- Darius Morris: Something just isn’t right with Darius and it hasn’t been for a while. The competition level has increased, which certainly plays a role in his struggles, but there’s something else that seems amiss. They say winning cures all evils but you can tell that Morris is dealing with some major frustration. D-Mo had 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting with 4 assists and 4 turnovers and most of that production came in the second half.
- Zack Novak: Zack started the game hot but really cooled off as things finished 4 of 9 (3-7 3PT) from the field with three rebounds and two assists. The good news is that Zack continues to shoot extremely well in Big Ten play,
- Stu Douglass: Douglass was abused by Hoffarber down the stretch as Hoffarber consistently got to the line or took Douglass off the dribble. Michigan did a great job of neutralizing Hoffarber earlier in the game but he scored some 9 points in the final 4:30 of game play. That being said, Douglass had a solid offensive performance, 2 of 6 shooting (all threes) with 6 assists and zero turnovers.
- Evan Smotrycz: Great, aggressive, start followed by missed jumpshot after missed jumpshot. Smotrycz finished with 5 points on 2 of 9 (1-7 3pt) shooting, one rebound, three steals, and one block. All of his production came in the first five minutes of the game before he picked up two fouls and never really got back in the swing of things.
- Jordan Morgan: 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting with one assist, no rebounds, two turnovers, a block, and four fouls. Morgan didn’t get a lot of playing time because of the silly fouls but a five man not having a single defensive rebound is, less than ideal.
- Matt Vogrich: Vogrich hit one of two threes, grabbed a pair of rebounds, and handed out an assist but he was still abused on defense several times. This was one of the first times this season that Michigan played Vogrich at the two guard, as Hardaway played 40 minutes at the three.
- Blake McLimans: A missed three, a missed layup, and zero rebounds in 3 minutes.