NCAA First Round: Michigan 62, Clemson 59

Dylan Burkhardt

freshAnd One. (Photo Credit: Detroit News, David Guralnick)
It wasn’t easy but it was definitely fun. This team wasn’t going to settle for their first tournament berth in eleven years, they wanted a win.

Michigan looked rattled and intimidated early on; they struggled with the full court press and shot a couple air balls. Luckily Manny Harris shouldered the load and carried Michigan with 14 first half points. Manny managed to settle Michigan down and he got a little help in the way of the three ball. The final product: a slim three point first half lead.

Michigan came out to play in the second half with a purpose, they pushed their lead to fourteen points in the first 4 minutes of the second half. Clemson lost Terrence Oglesby (who had a forgettable night) to an ejection and it took them a while to regroup. For Michigan fans, the clock just couldn’t tick fast enough. Unfortunately Michigan got cold down the stretch and only scored three points in the final five minutes.

Clemson made it a game in a hurry with three straight triples but Michigan just managed to hold on. Yet again it was Manny who saved the day, he had the play of the game when he drove through a crowd for a three point play with only 37 seconds remaining. Then with a 2 point lead and under 20 seconds left, Zack Novak split a pair of free throws giving Clemson a chance. KC Rivers desperation heave missed and Michigan escaped.

In the preview I said it would come down to turnovers. Michigan did a pretty good job holding onto the ball for the middle 30 minutes or so but the first and last five minutes were certainly scary. The end result was a 22.6% turnover rate, a shade under what Clemson forces per game. Clemson stayed in the game on rebounding alone. They rebounded a staggering 46.2% of their misses and 71.9% of Michigan’s misses.

Michigan won this game with their defense. Clemson is a dynamic offensive team that ranks in top 15 in offensive efficiency . Michigan silenced them tonight, holding them to .952 points per possession which is well below their season average of 1.17 ppp. Clemson’s starting guards combined to shoot only 5 of 27 from the field. Their bigs did better, Booker and Sykes combined for 26 points on 11 of 15 shooting inside, but they couldn’t do it all. Maybe there is something to be said about Big Ten defense after all. Michigan played their tempo (62 possessions) and held one of those vaunted ACC offenses to only 59 points.

Michigan had a game plan and they executed it very well. I give all the credit in the world to John Beilein who continues to prove that he is a one of the best NCAA tournament coaches in the country. There is no doubt that he had the team prepared to play today. We just won an NCAA tournament game with three starters who most people probably didn’t expect to even be contributors.

It’s on to the second round (5:50 PM approx. tip off). Oklahoma is a load but there is always a chance, especially with John Beilein at the helm.  I’ll have the preview tomorrow but here is what’s on my mind right now. The good, Clemson dominated the boards just about as well as anyone can and got tons of easy points inside but Michigan still won. The bad, Michigan is playing on short rest.

I know the Michigan fans who were in Kansas City with me tonight will agree, it definitely feels great to be a part of March Madness.

Player Bullets:

  • Manny Harris: Manny wasn’t good tonight, he was great: 23 points on 7 of 15 (3-6 3pt) shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. Manny was responsible for 13 of Michigan’s 20 made field goals on the night and he also made the biggest plays. Simple a spectacular effort, hopefully the national media gives him the credit he deserves.
  • DeShawn Sims: This was one of those games where Peedi “lacked focus”. He looked flustered early on by Clemson’s physical play and he also airballed a couple shots. DeShawn finished the game with 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting with only three rebounds. He’s going to need to play better Saturday against the Griffin brothers. Hopefully he hits his first shot.
  • Zack Novak: Zack gave us all a heart attack but at least he made the second. Novak hit two huge three pointers when Michigan was playing well and he also got robbed on another one that was half way down. Novak was severely outmatched inside but he fought hard. A typical game for Zack statistically: 7 points, 4 boards, and four assists.
  • Zack Gibson: His numbers aren’t necessarily impressive (2 points, 4 rebounds, and a block) but he gave Michigan quality minutes. He had at least two tip outs that ended up in offensive rebounds and he hustled as hard as I have seen him all year. In a game where DeShawn Sims really struggled, Gibson was definitely the unsung hero.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu didn’t really shoot it well but he got to the line and managed 12 points. It was also great to see him get the steal and fastbreak dunk. I also think Stu is by far the best at feeding the post on this team.
  • Anthony Wright: Ant knocked down a three in the first half and provided some quality minutes when Michigan neeeded some size. Three points and four rebounds in only 10 minutes is not bad for a guy that many had written off this year.
  • Dave Merritt: 15 minutes and only one turnover but not much else statistically. The job he did on KC Rivers at the end of the game makes up for anything else he could have done all day.
  • CJ Lee: CJ knocked down 2 three pointers and dished out three assists but he also had four turnovers. He struggled with the press at times but Grady didn’t look much better out there. Clemson has one of the best full court presses in the country so a few turnovers should be expected. You have to give credit to CJ, Merritt, Grady, Stu, and LLP for the defensive job they did on Clemson’s guards for the entire forty minutes.
  • Kelvin Grady and LLP: Only 11 minutes between the two and not much production. Grady didn’t look like a starting point guard but he at least got his shot. Laval didn’t look bad but he wasn’t hitting either.
  • I think they handled that vaunted Clemson presure rather well. Coach B had them ready to play

  • ch125

    This is the best feeling in the world. Upsets happen, let’s just hope we are in the game and have a shot to win it at the end! Go Blue!

    Dylan – It sounded like we had a decent crowd on tv, how many wolverine fans do you think we had there?

  • Post game quotes and video from MGoBlue are up here:

    And Oliver Purnell called us West Virginia in his presser. Classy. Maybe he should have prepared for Manny Harris instead of Johannes Herber.

  • El Capitan

    I haven’t been this happy about Michigan basketball in a LONG time…

  • I was there for the first three games, left before OU. I think we had the best crowd. Maybe I’m biased but I was VERY impressed. The students were in the back which doesn’t make that much sense but the crowd was very good. The neutral fans weren’t really on our side so we were powering ourselves. I fully expect more OU fans than Michigan fans on Saturday just because of the geography. Memphis also had a nice turnout.

  • ugh, Illinois is choking badly still. Down 15 with 4 to go. B10 will be 2-2 today

  • Papa J

    how sick was manny’s last drive… superhuman

  • Tom Too

    Great Crowd, Great Atmosphere. UM Fans were there in full force. Great Time….

  • Illinois is going to ruin my perfect bracket in our tournament challenge. Too bad.

  • ZRL

    I was just thinking that Manny’s defense has been really, really, amazing this year yet no one talks about it. Yeah occasionaly he’ll be overagressive going for a steal in the zone, but I can’t remember him getting beat man to man once all year.

  • ZRL

    Also, what’s with people beating up on Blake Griffin? That’s like the fourth time this year an opposing player has intentionally tried to hurt him.

  • Giddings

    Frustration, ZRL… when you’re getting physically dominated every time down the floor, eventually you just want to do something about it. And most of the time the only thing you can do is give him a cheap shot.

  • Ok, here’s the open chat on a Clemson message board for the game. Enjoy!

  • Kevin

    What are some early thoughts on OU? I’ve kind of thought that Blake is obviously going to get his, so it’d be to our advantage just to try and shut down everybody else. We could 2-3 them, but they’re a pretty solid 3pt shooting team. Do we make Blake earn em at the free throw line (sixty percent)? Or are we so desperate we yank the redshirt off Cronin? (joke)

  • ZRL

    Same gameplan as UCONN. Yeah Blake will get his if he gets it inside, but we’ll mix up the defenses to try to confuse them and force a bunch of turnovers. Also, Oklahoma is not nearly as good as UCONN on defense. Of course it would help if Stu is unconsious again.

  • AG2

    I see substantial minutes for Gibson on Saturday. But in the end, Michigan should do the opposite of what they did today. Against Clemson, they let Booker get whatever he wanted and worked on Oglesby.

    Against OU, they need to do everything they can to stop Blake and Taylor Griffin who went combined 18-20 tonight. Put the game in Willie Warren and Juan Patillo’s hands. Make them win it.

  • Brick

    I was very impressed at how we handled the press. Most of our turnovers tonight were after halfcourt when we had numbers and threw a bad pass trying to get an easy bucket. I was particularly impressed with Stu. He was in charge of the inbounds pass and usually got it right back and had to make another pass. He had 2 turnovers on the night and one wasn’t his fault when no one came back for the ball and he got a 5 second call.

    I was so happy when JB got hired and tonight is why. Seriously, a walk on and two freshman with no other high major offers just started for us tonight and we won. Yes, Manny kind of carried us but everyone else played their part just like they were supposed to.

  • Yeah, I was listening to Purnell and he called us WV twice in his press conference and no one bothered to correct him? He also gave us no credit and talked about missed layups as the reason for the loss. 0-5 in the tournament is a pattern.

  • Brian

    1)I hope we didn’t just see Manny play his way into the NBA

    2)Incredible job by Novak giving up like 3″ and 30 lbs and still altering shots

    3)Gibson was very active, kind of wish he had some post moves sometimes but whatever

    What a fun game! Really liked the defensive effort tonight. Two plays that almost killed me-Stu jacking up a three with like 32 seconds on the shot clock late in the game; and TWICE failing to help CJ get across the time line. Pretty much everything else was great.

  • Dave

    even if michigan loses to oklahoma …………im loving that dickie v, steve lavin, hubert davis, even digger feel that oklahoma should be nervous right now

    cant wait to see that deshawn v blake matchup

  • Erik

    Great game. I think the pre-game analysis by Dylan, which I built off of was pretty accurate: yep it was about turnovers, but without those turnovers Clemson’s FG% would drop significantly from their season averages since they wouldn’t get those easy looks. And on offense Sims will be held in check so Manny will have to step up.

    To me, that’s exactly what happened.

    I see the video on espn has Lavin picking us to upset OU. That’s good to hear, but I’m not so confident.

  • Fab54ever

    Brian: you are right. I hope nobody; like agents are talking in Manny’s ear.

    But, I don’t want to be negative on this win. What a great job of handeling the press. Stu really can bring that ball up. Bring on Blake and (Okla). We can beat anyone. I really was thrilled we had the better coach tonight for once. THANK GOD. GIVE J. B. some love

  • Tom Too

    It is going to be nice having Morris at PG next year. I am thinking he would have handled the last 5 minutes better than Lee. That was gut wrenching to watch. I hope Morris is a quick study, because that offense is not your typical high school pass and play around ….

  • JimC

    That was a blast!

    Manny don’t go away!

    OK, I owe someone a beer for the IL-WKU game.

    I still hope the B10 wins 3 more games today. But even if the B10 puts like, 5 teams in the sweet 16, Digger will still say “weak conference this year”.

  • Pingback: Breathe Easy, Michigan advances 62-59()

  • Merlin

    I echo others. I was really impressed with StuD in this game.

  • jgunnip

    Despite turning it over 14 times to their 11, we outscored them off those turnovers 20-11. Fast-break points were 9-8 in our favor.

    I absolutely loved that 3 pointer by Douglass on the fast break. Would have extended the lead to 18 and ended the game. There’s a point in the game when you can just run the clock and I don’t think we were quite there yet. Obviously you don’t want that shot every possession in that situation, but when you’ve got a chance to put the game away, I don’t mind taking it. The last thing you want to do is get too passive out there and run the shot clock out on yourself.

    I haven’t seen the Purnell presser but I’d have to agree with him in that a big part of their loss was missed layups. They missed a ton of close looks, contested and not, in both halves. Especially in the first after the initial surge, their missed baskets allowed us to get into the game a little. We were only down 4 or something going in the second tv timeout when it could have been 8 or 10. That’s was huge.

    Also, I obv anti-kinxed us by picking Clemson in my bracket. woo!

  • LoyalBlue15

    Sorry to ask for this, but I was looking on and couldn’t find the Lavin pick of us over OU. Anyone have a link? Thanks!

  • jgunnip

    There’s an espn insider article titled, “Insider Intel: How Michigan can stop OU”. I don’t have a sub so I can’t read it, but can somebody who does, give a recap?

    Looking at OU, one thing they don’t do is force a lot of turnovers.

  • Adam

    hey loyal… I think it’s on the Michigan team page on the top left video player. I’m not sure that he technically picks us but he does break down the matchup.

  • LoyalBlue15

    Thanks Adam. For some reason my videos weren’t loading earlier, but they are back up now.

    Should be an interesting game Saturday. I didn’t realize Griffin was only 59% at the line this year. Might be an angle we can exploit if necessary.

  • ryan
  • andrew

    Completely random – I just found out that Matt Vogrich’s dad works at my company. Different consulting specialization, but he sits in the wing right around the corner from me. And no, I won’t tell you where I work. ;)

  • jgunnip

    Getting into foul trouble against Griffin won’t be the way we win this game. He might be 60%, but their other four starters are 78, 78, 77, 71 form the line. They also get to the line at a high rate any way at 47% FTA/FGA (5th in the nation). However, defensively we allow the 25th lowest rate in the country (29%), so it’ll be interesting to see how that battle plays out.

    They aren’t a deep team. They go 7 or 8 deep usually but none of the bench guys see a lot of minutes. The offense obviously runs through Blake(6-10) and Willie Warren(6-4). Those guys combine to use 55% of their possessions. (as a comparison, manny and deshawn use 58%) But Taylor Griffin(6-7), Tony Crocker(6-6), and the PG Austin Johnson(6-3) are all threats to put up double digits averaging between 8-10 ppg. So if we focus on taking Blake Griffin out of the game, their other guys can easily step up.

    It’s likely we’ll take a similar approach against Blake as we did against Jamelle Cornley at home. Let him have his, but keep Warren from going off.

    Looking forward to Dylan’s preview.

  • raiderfan

    Great game guys!!! I wanted to share with you guys a conversation I recently had with Mike Conley Sr. who is an agent for NBA players such as Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Eric Gordon, George Hill, and Courtney Lee. This isn’t the whole conversation, I am just summarizing the important part, or the part about Manny. I asked him his thoughts on Manny and if he thought he would declare for the draft after this year. He said that the consensus is Manny, if he came out, would be a secound round pick. The only thing he, and other scouts, question is his ball handling. He has superior athleticism and is a great on the ball defender. His jumper could use some improvement but overall there is definetly a place on just about every NBA teams roster for Manny. He said, and this is just his opinion, don’t be surprised to see Manny’s name in the early entries list. I sure hope he’s wrong but either way, Manny has done a tremendous job bringing Michigan back to the promise land.

  • AG2

    I thought Manny already told the Detroit News he’s staying. Then again things can chance.

    BTW, if ESPN is going to keep showing us Bob Knight from Las Vegas, could they do it by phone? The guy has no concept of sunscreen!

  • raiderfan

    I also wanted to make a comment about C.J. Lee. I have been the fronrunner for Kelvin Grady getting pt, but CJ has simply come out and led this teams to wins. He may not be the most talented or the most athletic, but there is no questioning this kids effort. There is a certain swagger with this team when he is on the floor. He gives us that general that every team needs. I honestly think without him, we would be playing in the NIT. I want to apologize to anyone I upset with my bickering about JB and his ability to coach. This guy just wins. His NCAA tournament resume is outstanding and he plain and simple outcoaches his opponents and takes a team with minimal talent and makes them into winners. I am overwhelmed with what he has done this year and I can’t wait to see what he can do when he gets actual talent. Great things are definetly in our future!!!

  • raiderfan

    No, Manny told the DTN that he most likely will return for his junior season. You can take that however you would like, but most likely isn’t to reassuring for me.

  • JimC

    Yeah, Manny said “I haven’t thought about it” this week.
    My thought is this: if he’s still improving, he should stay, that simple.

    But then I wonder how he gauges his draftability (is that like drinkability?) without contacting an agent.

    We’d for sure be in the NIT without Manny!
    So fun to watch the guy fly around the court!

  • Beast1530

    Manny plays better without Big Ten officiating. He gets to the line at will because of his aggressive nature. In nonconference, he has been to the line at an average of 10 FT shots per game but in Big Ten play, it went down to about half.

    I hope that Manny keeps it down or NBA scouts will start buzzing on him because of his play at the NCAA tourney. He has improved especially on going to the left. He’s starting to be more aggressive at going to the left and finish. This is an another evolution of Manny Harris. If he decides to stay, I can’t wait to see further improvement of Manny on court.

  • rlc

    “We’d for sure be in the NIT without Manny!”

    Only teams with winning records are eligible for the NIT. Without Manny, this team would be hanging around on the Diag.

  • GregGoBlue

    Re: Beast1530, agreed.

    Whenever Blue goes out of conference, Manny gets to the line more often. This bodes well for the rest of the tourney.

    As for the “aggressive” and “physical” play of the Big Ten, I think that’s a telling stat of neglectful Big Ten officiating.

  • Wow, great scores! There's a thrill lol!

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