It’s the sign of a painfully inconsistent team but yet again Michigan’s game at Penn State was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Michigan played some of the worst basketball they have played all year (and that’s saying a lot). They didn’t defend, allowing Penn State to shoot at a 59.6 eFG% clip. They turned the ball over 9 times and shot only 34.8 eFG% from the field while failing to make a three.
Rah-rah pump up speeches never struck me as John Beilein’s thing but he definitely has a nice collection of psychological ploys in his library from “Queme Los Barcos” to Thursday’s half time silence. In a season that has lacked proud or even notable moments, Michigan has finally put together a couple wins to build some momentum.
In the second half Michigan exploded. The basket appeared to grow and they finally started defending. Michigan hit seven three point shots in the final 12 minutes of the game en route to a scorching 79.6 eFG% in the second half. Michigan hit their threes but they also consistently tossed the ball to DeShawn Sims who put together another monster performance, scoring 25 points on 12-17 shooting. When all was said and done, Michigan had rung up 48 points on the Nittany Lions in the second half in front of the sparse, but shocked, Bryce Jordan Center crowd.
Michigan’s second half defensive effort can’t be overlooked. Michigan forced 10 second half turnovers and held the Nittany Lions to a more respectable, 50 eFG%, shooting percentage. Most importantly, Michigan completely eliminated Talor Battle. The superstar guard scored 9 first half points but was held scoreless in the second with more turnovers than assists. For the second game in a row Michigan has put forth an inspired second half defensive effort, now it’s time to bring that effort for 40 minutes.
It’s a couple months later than most expected it but this team finally appears to be gelling. Two wins doesn’t even qualify as a run but at the very least it’s a sign of life from a team that could have folded their hand by now. The season remains on life support but all of a sudden 11 conference wins doesn’t seem quite as improbable as it did a week ago.
Next up for Michigan is a three game home stretch that pits them against Northwestern, Indiana, and Connecticut. Taking care of business at home is obviously critical, especially with games at Wisconsin, at Purdue, and versus Michigan State after Connecticut.
- DeShawn Sims: Neither Andrew Jones or Andrew Ott could guard Peedi and luckily Michigan went to him all night long. Another monster game for Sims, who is shooting 67.5% on two point field goals over the last six games. It’s been repeated ad nauseam but this team goes as DeShawn Sims goes and now it appears that Peedi might be realizing it: “I didn’t know how valid it was until I looked at it,” he said.”
- Laval Lucas-Perry:His road game out-of-nowhere antics inspired me to put together a post dedicated to all things LLP, it was out of nowhere but definitely a great performance. Laval also notched 5 rebounds and dished two assists besides his 4 three pointers. He was even Jeff Goodman’s “Stud of the Night”.
- Manny Harris: Manny wasn’t his dominant self but he made some huge plays down the stretch including a couple steals and transition baskets. Not quite enough rebounds (3) and a few too many turnovers (4) but 4 steals and 4 assists to go along with 13 points is certainly not bad.
- Darius Morris: Kudos to the freshmen for a terrific defensive effort, I wasn’t sure that Michigan would be able to hang with Battle but Darius did a great job, especially in the second half. Darius’ lack of a jump shot is becoming painfully apparent on the offensive end and preventing him from taking his game to the next level. He did manage to hand out 4 assists to 2 turnovers in 23 minutes of play.
- Zack Novak: 8 points, 3-6 (2-5 3pt) shooting, 3 rebounds for Novak in a solid if unspectacular effort. I want to watch the game again but I’ve been impressed with Novak’s defense over the last couple games. It feels like he’s still getting quicker and sticking with people a little better on the perimeter.
- Stu Douglass: Definitely an off game for Douglass shooting the ball (1-5) but he was due for lesser performance. Luckily LLP was there to pick up the slack.
- Zack Gibson & Matt Vogrich: 6 minutes combined, John Beilein’s lack of confidence in his bench is becoming painfully apparent as Harris, Sims, and Novak all played over 37 minutes.