It’s always best to learn from mistakes in a win. Michigan was far from perfect on Sunday night, and it flirted with disaster, but it won its first Big Ten game.
“I don’t know what to say,” Juwan Howard said when asked for his overall thoughts on the win. “It was a very competitive game from start to finish.”
It wasn’t a win that leaves you raving about any one thing, but it was still a conference victory.
Penn State isn’t the best team in the Big Ten, but it is always up for a streetfight. PSU has already been in competitive, high-level games this year; Michigan hasn’t. For long stretches of Sunday’s game, that gap showed. The Nittany Lions forced 16 U-M turnovers, won 50-50 balls, and chased down 13 offensive rebounds.
Down the stretch, Michigan found two things that it could lean on: freshman big man Hunter Dickinson and its defense. The Wolverines held Penn State scoreless over the final 2:53 of regulation and scored the last six points of the game to win 62-58. Dickinson scored Michigan’s final two baskets and accounted for 9 of 20 made field goals for the game, while Eli Brooks and the U-M defense recorded stops on three consecutive possessions when Penn State had the chance to tie or take the lead.
The Wolverines have room to grow — their preseason stars, Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner, were a combined 3-of-12 from the floor — but they are undefeated and have a conference win in the bag.
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