Michigan was dominant in the opening moments of both halves on Saturday, but Nebraska never folded and managed to make things interesting in Lincoln.
The Wolverines outscored the Huskers 18-6 to open the first half and 24-3 to open the second half, but could never put away the pesky Huskers. Nebraska closed the first half lead to three points by half time and battled back to cut Michigan’s lead, once as large as 18 points, to just two late in the game. Eventually the Wolverines held on for a 81-68 win.
MVP: Derrick Walton
Walton flirted with a triple-double in a comprehensive 19 point, 12 rebound, 6 assist performance. He hit big time threes, grabbed key rebounds and kept the Wolverines offense moving in half court and transition situations. Walton had some costly turnovers late in the game, but his ability to push the pace and control the game was critical to the Wolverines.
It was over when
Michigan could never quite figure how to put the Huskers away, but a backdoor cut and dunk from Duncan Robinson gave Michigan a 6 point lead again, moments after the Huskers had cut the lead to two points. Robinson held onto the rim and let out a howl as the crowd booed and Michigan had sufficiently regained momentum. Robinson was fouled on the next possession and Mark Donnal a picked up a big block and a pair of free throws to stretch the lead back to eight points.
Stat of the game: Three-point shooting
Michigan regained its hot shooting touch from the perimeter, making 10-of-20 threes in the victory. Five different Wolverines hit a three while Walton and Robinson both hit three triples and Irvin knocked in a pair. The three-point shooting was necessary because the Wolverines struggled inside in the first half before opening thing sup in the second.
Unsung Hero: Zak Irvin
Irvin was quiet in the first half, with just 3 points and no assists, but took the game over early in the second half with his ability to play off the pick-and-roll. He had 8 points, five assists and four rebounds and his strong play in the second half helped Michigan build the big lead that it needed to hold onto the win.
Room for Improvement: Turnovers & Transition Defense
Michigan’s undoing was giving the ball away and giving Nebraska easy opportunities in transition. The Huskers outscored Michigan 20-4 in points off turnovers and the Wolverines gave the ball away on a fifth of their offensive possessions.