While Dug McDaniel snaked his way to the ‘Block M’ to dribble out Michigan’s 84-72 victory over Michigan State, Tarris Reed Jr. stood in front of the Wolverines’ bench and flexed, stopping only to chest bump Jace Howard.
Reed has often played well in late-game stretches this season, flourishing in Michigan’s two-big lineup alongside Hunter Dickinson. But the freshman is infrequently on the court for the game’s end, hampered by his free-throw shooting: He entered Saturday’s game shooting a measly 37% from the foul line.
But in the waning minutes on Saturday night, Reed became indispensable.
“The way I was playing defensively, I was like, ‘OK, I should stay in’,” Reed said. “But I’m not gonna lie, I was a little surprised that, even though I missed two free throws before, Coach trusted me in the game. I respect him for that. Overall, I feel like I earned it.”
Indeed he did. Reed played the best game of his young college career, notching eight points, ten rebounds — including four on the offensive glass — and three blocks.
But Reed’s performance is even more impressive considering the backdrop.
In the first half, he struggled to find a rhythm. In 12 unproductive minutes, he failed to score, committed two fouls, and turned the ball over.
“I felt like I was trying to force the game instead of letting the game come to me,” Reed said. “Coach told me to slow down. I knew when he put me back into the game, it was gonna change. That’s exactly what I did.”