Game 22: Nebraska at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan vs Nebraska_7
Scott Mapes

Michigan 79, Nebraska 50. Photo Gallery. Beilein presser. Player reactions. Tim Miles presser. Box score.

“If you can’t bounce back in this league, you’re gonna be done very quickly.”

John Beilein always preaches the importance of bouncing back and learning from a loss and Michigan did just that in a 79-50 drubbing of Nebraska on Wednesday night. The Wolverines have only lost consecutive regular season games once in the past two and a half seasons and quickly turned Sunday’s disappointment into an offensive clinic at the Crisler Center.

Nebraska managed to hang around for eight minutes as the Wolverines led just 16-12 midway through the first half. Then Zak Irvin blew the doors off of the game.

Irvin buried his first shot of the night with 11:30 to play in the half and triggered a 27-3 Michigan run. The Wolverines made nine of their next ten field goal attempts – including four Irvin threes – and opened up a 49-21 half time lead.

Irvin had 16 points in the first half and Glenn Robinson III cleaned things up in the second, tying his career high with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting.  Nik Stauskas had a quiet night on the score sheet, 9 points on 1-of-3 shooting, but served as a facilitator and handed out eight assists. Caris LeVert also continued his steady play, adding 16 points and five assists and leading Michigan in rebounding for the third time in four games.


The final stats say that this was Michigan’s seventh best offensive performance of the season, but they don’t tell the whole story. The Wolverines scored 1.5 points per possession over the first 30 minutes of play and were pummeling Nebraska until late game sloppiness and bench clearing substitutions got the best of the game. The Wolverines scored 75 points in the first 30 minutes of play and just four points in the final ten.

Michigan’s offensive attack was predicated with the long range shot, 68% of its field goal attempts were threes, but they were wide open threes. Overall, 21 of Michigan’s 26 made field goals were assisted and the Wolverines routinely broke down Nebraska’s defense for wide open shots. Michigan was 13-of-31 (42%) from long range despite missing its last seven three point attempts of the game. That’s not to say the Wolverines weren’t efficient inside the arc either, they converted 13-of-21 interior looks.

While Michigan’s offense deserves all of the headlines, this was its most complete defensive performance of the 2013-14 season. The Wolverines held the Cornhuskers to just .79 points per possession, their lowest per-possession output of the season, and dominated the game from the opening tip. Nebraska helped Michigan out early on with a handful of rushed shot attempts, but Michigan’s effort was very solid across the board.

Shavon Shields was the only Husker that could get anything started offensively and Michigan did a great job on two players that have hurt them in the past, Ray Gallegos (kudos to Derrick Walton) and Terran Petteway (kudos to Nik Stauskas). Nebraska was just 14-of-32 (42%) inside the arc and 5-of-21 (24%) on threes.

Both teams both struggled to defend the pick-and-roll in the first meeting and made similar adjustments – opting to be very aggressive in doubling or even switching the ball screen. This worked extremely well for Michigan – Terran Petteway was just 2-of-10 from the floor with 4 turnovers to 1 assist – and not so well for Nebraska. Michigan’s ball screen guards, Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert, both were effective in making the extra pass around the trap and combined for 13 assists.

While the Cornhuskers have struggled on the road this season, they are no pushovers. This is the same team that had just beaten Ohio State, Minnesota and Indiana in its last four games and hadn’t been beaten by more than six points since January 4th. Michigan hasn’t won a Big Ten game by 29 points since 1998 and the win was a big step in the right direction before upcoming games at Iowa and Ohio State.

Michigan vs Nebraska_3
Scott Mapes

Player Bullets

  • Zak Irvin: Irvin is a streaky shooter, but when he heats up he can change a game in a hurry. Irvin is a 41% 3-point shooter on the year, so even the streaky label might be a bit harsh. He also hit a pair of nice long twos: one curling off a screen and one in the middle of the Nebraska zone. Even John Beilein admitted his uneasiness with the way that Irvin’s shot looks, but he’s not going to complain with the results.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Michigan clearly made an effort to get Robinson off on the right foot with an alley-oop on the first possession of the game. He knocked down 3-of-7 triples and the rest of his game flowed from there. He was efficient offensively, but I was most impressed with his three offensive rebounds. They were hustle plays, but hustle plays that his athleticism enable – the sort we want to see more of on a regular basis. Robinson has scored 42 of his 129 Big Ten points in two games against Nebraska, but is averaging just 10.9 points per game in Michigan’s other eight Big ten games.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert played his most efficient game of the Big Ten season, finishing with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists to just one turnover. He had his jumper going early – he’s looked very comfortable catching and shooting lately – but his move to open the second half was his most impressive: a pump fake and dribble drive past Petteway with a finish through contact at the rim. LeVert also continues to improve defensively and leads Michigan in defensive rebounding in Big Ten play.
  • Nik Stauskas: Coming off one of his worst games of the season, Stauskas only attempted three field goals… but he added eight assists, five rebounds and four turnovers. While he threw some uncharacteristically sloppy passes into the paint, Stauskas played within himself despite facing another game planned designed to take him out of the game (blitzing the pick-and-roll).
  • Derrick Walton: Walton has quietly been one of the more efficient freshmen in the conference. He’s shooting the ball very well from deep (2-of-5 tonight) and is playing with confidence. He had a great finish through contact at the rim, but he needs to keep improving running the fast break. He allowed Petteway to swat his layup on break and needs to continue to understand court spacing in transition.
  • Jon Horford: Horford was very aggressive, but his performance was a bit of a mixed bag. He flung a wild kick out pass out of bounds, missed a post-up move and missed a mid-range jumper. On the good side of the ledger he had some great catches and finishes around the basket in traffic including an exclamation point with the second half alley oop.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht only attempted two shots, but was very comfortable orchestrating things with his passing ability. He had a couple of great looks to Jon Horford and finished with four assists in 19 minutes.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan was the only Wolverine to have a very quiet game. He didn’t attempt a shot, but grabbed four rebounds in 20 minutes.
  • Colby

    Any recruits at the game?

  • kam

    Irvins shot looks weird, but it’s too late in his life to totally fix it. Besides he shoots really well. Also I was extremely impressed Niks maturity to play within the offense. Glenn played very well which was a good sign. Caris is playing defense like JB said during the fall. People are not going by him. Also he’s a great rebounding guard. Walton once again played well. The bigs did fine. Great win! Fun relaxing and enjoyable game. GO BLUE. Onto the next one!

  • Trask

    I saw 3 big name michigan recruits for football. A 4 star from Florida named Denard Robinson, and 2 5-star in state recruits Devin Gardner, and Big Will Campbell.

  • MGoTweeter

    Now that is the way you bounce back from a tough loss. Obviously shooting lights out helps a lot and I thought Michigan got a bit three happy especially in the second half. However, I was really impressed at Michigan’s ability to continuously generate wide open looks from three. When a team takes and makes that many, and you can count on one hand the number that were actually contested, it is extremely impressive.

    There were a ton of positives to take from this game, the most important of which is probably the defensive effort, but the one that stands out to me is the team’s play with only three shot attempts from Nik Stauskas. It is great to see the team completely dominate a game on offense and the best offensive weapon rarely even being a threat to score. Some of that may be extra attention from Nebraska’s D on Stauskas but a lot was just other guys making plays/shots and Nik being incredibly unselfish. Nik passed up a number of shots that he is capable of making in order for the team to get a better shot. I thought at times he was a bit too unselfish but it is hard to complain about the results tonight.

    There were two negatives, and tough to really call them negatives on this night, but one is running the floor in transition and the other is finding the roll man on pick and rolls. Michigan was very good in transition tonight, but I thought they missed a lot of opportunities simply because guys ran the same lanes in transition. There were numerous times Michigan got a big numbers advantage pushing the ball, but had three plays running down the same side of the floor thus allowing them to be guarded by fewer defenders. That is going to happen from time to time, however it seemed to happen a lot tonight.

    The second negative, hitting the roll man, is probably even more nit picky considering the way nebraska defended. Nebraska packed things in and frequently doubled the ball handler in pick and rolls so most times the roll man was not open nor could the ball handler make the pass, so caveats apply here. That said this is still a part of the offense that has not found a good rhythm this season and Michigan needs this to improve to generate more easy baskets at the rim. There were still chances to hit the roll man tonight but the guards/wings struggled to identify the opening. Albrecht and Stauskas have been the best at finding the roll man this year but Michigan needs Walton and Levert to really step up in this area.

    It will be another big test this weekend at Iowa but the team should go in with a great deal of confidence.

  • JimC

    Key play was the tip.

  • Mattski

    Here’s an idea for a little video analysis, Dylan and Joe: no-look passes. Seems to me that Michigan is getting a ton of really good looks this way. If you watch today’s mgoblue highlights there’s one great no-look after another. Is this team especially accomplished in that way?

  • Chezaroo

    Nebraska looked entirely overmatched. Was nice to see the teams energy in lieu of a lot of no shows from a crowd perspective. Very nice to see the offense produce without Nik being a prime option. He played very unselfishly and made a lot of great decisions. Hope this bodes well for the upcoming two road games. Big, Big challenges coming up.

  • ChathaM

    My only frustration with this game was that the weather made it too difficult for me to get there. It was still a pleasure to watch on TV.

  • Kenny

    I would care less about Irvin’s shooting motion as long as he keeps hitting it. Michael Johnson has the strangest running stance, and is the best 200m/400m runner ever.

    • kam

      If it works, why fix it! Right? Haha he will be a career 40%+ 3 point shooter. He needs to focus on getting a pull game no messing around with his jumpshot