Final Horn: Michigan 81, Nebraska 68

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan was dominant in the opening moments of both halves on Saturday, but Nebraska never folded and managed to make things interesting in Lincoln.

The Wolverines outscored the Huskers 18-6 to open the first half and 24-3 to open the second half, but could never put away the pesky Huskers. Nebraska closed the first half lead to three points by half time and battled back to cut Michigan’s lead, once as large as 18 points, to just two late in the game. Eventually the Wolverines held on for a 81-68 win.

MVP: Derrick Walton

Walton flirted with a triple-double in a comprehensive 19 point, 12 rebound, 6 assist performance. He hit big time threes, grabbed key rebounds and kept the Wolverines offense moving in half court and transition situations. Walton had some costly turnovers late in the game, but his ability to push the pace and control the game was critical to the Wolverines.

It was over when

Michigan could never quite figure how to put the Huskers away, but a backdoor cut and dunk from Duncan Robinson gave Michigan a 6 point lead again, moments after the Huskers had cut the lead to two points. Robinson held onto the rim and let out a howl as the crowd booed and Michigan had sufficiently regained momentum. Robinson was fouled on the next possession and Mark Donnal a picked up a big block and a pair of free throws to stretch the lead back to eight points.

Stat of the game: Three-point shooting

Michigan regained its hot shooting touch from the perimeter, making 10-of-20 threes in the victory. Five different Wolverines hit a three while Walton and Robinson both hit three triples and Irvin knocked in a pair. The three-point shooting was necessary because the Wolverines struggled inside in the first half before opening thing sup in the second.

Unsung Hero: Zak Irvin

Irvin was quiet in the first half, with just 3 points and no assists, but took the game over early in the second half with his ability to play off the pick-and-roll. He had 8 points, five assists and four rebounds and his strong play in the second half helped Michigan build the big lead that it needed to hold onto the win.

Room for Improvement: Turnovers & Transition Defense

Michigan’s undoing was giving the ball away and giving Nebraska easy opportunities in transition. The Huskers outscored Michigan 20-4 in points off turnovers and the Wolverines gave the ball away on a fifth of their offensive possessions.

Four Factors: 

  • Chezaroo

    We’ve gotten two Ws while being out scored 74-38 in the paint these last two games. Walton had 12 rebounds today, the rest of the starters 13.

    • A2MIKE

      The rebounding doesn’t worry me. It was a slow pace and Nebraska only rebounded 25% of their misses, we definitely outrebounded them by percentages. The turnovers are a bit concerning. To borrow a phrase from JB, too many turnovers for touchdowns. I actually think this is where we miss Caris the most. Perimeter D and turnovers.

  • Champswest

    Very good games by Walton, Robinson and Donnal. Solid games by Irvin and Rachman. Even without LeVert, I think we could finish 11-7 in conference and 21-10 overall. With a healthy Caris, how high is up?

  • Adam Redstone

    We play tough like that and we can be a Sweet 16 team! The emergence of Donnal as a legit starting 5 and the steady, albeit slight, improve by the other 5s has improved the flow and rhythm of our offense quite substantially. We hung tough in a game where the refs blatantly favored the home team.

  • bobohle

    One aspect the last two games is that we got the lead early and never gave it up showing growing maturity of this team.

    • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

      We did that a lot last year despite playing all the young guys. Record was incredibly misleading with how unlucky we were. We have the talent and bodies to make sure the lead stays the lead this year.

  • Anonymous7092

    I think UM outscored Nebraska 14-3 to start the second half, right? Not 24-3.