CHICAGO -- Leading by 15 points midway through the second half at Penn State on March 3rd, Michigan appeared poised for a road win everyone expected them to take. But the Nittany Lions had other ideas, storming back on a 26-8 run the Wolverines lost their cool and the game, 84-78, giving Penn State their first conference win of the season.
Thursday afternoon at the United Center in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, Michigan was in a battle once again and it was clear this same Penn State team lead by coach Pat Chambers was ready to take two out of three from the Wolverines.
“I think that they have two guys, [Jermaine] Marshall and [D.J.] Newbill, that can get about anywhere they want to get to on the court,” said Beilein. “I don't care who is guarding them. They can get to there.
“If you blink -- it's like Northwestern, there's different stuff, but off the ball screen, maybe I'm stupid, but we haven't seen a lot of that action that they're running right now.”
Penn State quickly jumped out to a 14-3 lead from the jump as Michigan missed open looks inside and the Nittany Lions capitalized with ease on the other end. Settling for and missing outside shots, Michigan looked to attack, slowly chipping away at the early Penn State lead starting with Tim Hardaway Jr.’s willingness to get in the paint and go to the free throw stripe.
Insert Mitch McGary.
The freshman center was a spark plug in a 26-8 run for Michigan, grabbing four offensive rebounds and scoring eight points in a flash. McGary would finish the first half with a double double (10 points and 10 rebounds) as the Wolverines went into the break up just two, 35-33.
“That's Mitch McGary,” said point guard Trey Burke. “That's how he is. He's able to come off the bench and give us a spark.
“I think he had six or seven rebounds within 10 minutes. And that just goes to show how much effort and intensity he plays with.”
Locked up in the early going of the second half, Michigan stretched their lead to eight before eventually seizing control of the game with a 16-point advantage with just 7:29 to play.
And Michigan was determined to keep Penn State from clawing back into this one like it did just 11 days ago.
“We knew we came off a loss against Indiana at home and once we got up with 12 minutes to go in the second half, we just reminded everybody that they can still come back, they can knock down threes, [Jermaine] Marshall's a threat,” said Hardaway Jr. “Everyone's a threat. So we wanted to make sure that we went out there and just played basketball.”
“On” to Wisconsin
Michigan now shifts their attention off of Penn State and onto another team that delivered a shocking defeat earlier in the season -- the Wisconsin Badgers. Ben Brust flicked a half court buzzer beating three to tie the game up at the end of regulation before coach Bo Ryan’s crew took control in overtime, giving the Wolverines another road loss.
This time around, tomorrow at roughly 2:25pm/EST, Michigan can’t be lulled to sleep against a tough, defensive minded Wisconsin bunch if they hope to play on Saturday.
“We're the victim of two buzzer beaters against them as well as about 10 of shot clock time over the six years I've been coaching against them,” said Beilein. “They're not going to beat themselves.
“We're going to have to make shots. We're going to have to make tough shots.”
After a disappointing 10 minutes of action out of junior center Jordan Morgan that had the veteran shoot just 2-of-6 from the field, grab two just rebounds, and miss several good looks inside, Beilein remained open to a possible lineup change Friday afternoon.
“We talk about the roster and rotation every day,” said Beilein. “We'll probably do that again. But a change, I'm not going to say we're going to do it or not going to do it.
“I will watch some film and talk and see what -- again, look at our matchups for the next game and decide what we're going to do.”