A 66-64 overtime win over Savannah State isn’t going to wow anyone but this is the kind of game that can bring teams together. This is another instance of this Michigan team facing adversity and fighting through it. Yes they came out flat early, but they took Savannah State’s best punch and kept fighting.
Nothing went right for Michigan in the first half. The Wolverines turned the ball over 12 times, shot 31% (0-8 from long range), and found themselves down 39-19 after Savannah State shot 71% in the first half. Savannah State was 5-5 from long range and their eFG% in first half was 83.33%! All the work in the first half Michigan did to trim the lead was torn apart by a late Savannah State run that gave them their biggest lead of the game 20 points after a pull up three pointer.
DeShawn on the first half:
“They hit all those lucky shots in the first half. They were good. They didn’t miss a shot so we couldn’t get the rebound and run like we have been running because they didn’t miss their shots. We played solid defense, but they just kept hitting shots. In the second half, we stepped up our intensity and pressure and didn’t give them a chance to shoot those shots.”
Whatever Beilein said at halftime, DeShawn Sims heard it. DeShawn came out firing in the second half and willed Michigan back into the game. Peedi scored inside and out including a bank three pointer that got the crowd back into the game. On Sims’ back Michigan started the second half with a 15-0 run. Peedi did it on offense and defense and had some big blocks and steals in the second half.
Michigan had got themselves back in the game but Savannah State still hit some big time shots to keep it close. Manny hit big free throw after big free throw down the stretch and Novak added some timely three pointers.
The Novak missed-dunk will probably be on Sports Center’s “Not Top 10″ but props to Zack Novak for holding in there and hitting a huge three pointer in overtime. You also have to give the kid credit for coming up with that steal in the first place which prevented Savannah State from getting a shot for the win.
In overtime Michigan battled and Manny, Novak, and DeShawn all made some huge plays. One that sticks out is when Manny lost the ball on a fast break and Novak somehow kept it alive and got it into Manny’s hands (this was in regulation I believe). Finally, DeShawn capped off the best game of his career with a buzzer beating jumper from the corner.
The game wasn’t pretty and Michigan struggled with Savannah State’s pressure all night but they just found a way to get it done. Here are a couple player bullets:
- DeShawn Sims (23 points and 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals): It appears the light has clicked with DeShawn, he is hitting the boards harder than he ever has before and also scoring inside with ease. DeShawn has become a man inside, I criticzed him a lot last year for being lackluster on the boards but he has already posted 2 double doubles this year. It was interesting to hear Beilein mention on the radio that certain people need to throw the ball down into the post. This was Peedi’s day and it was only right that he hit the game winner.
- Manny Harris (22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 8 turnovers): Manny struggled with turnovers all day, especially early in the game when Savannah State was in control. Manny is a weapon because can get the hole with ease and at least get to the stripe. It wasn’t his best shooting day but he was clutch from the line with 14 (of 14) free throws. If a quiet game for Manny is 22 and 9 I’ll take it.
- Zack Novak (9 points, 1 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 steals): Yes he missed the dunk but I think it was a gutty performance for the freshman overall. He is scrappy in the 1-3-1 and also hit some huge three pointers to get Michigan back in the game. I also loved Beilein leaving him in there and letting him get his redemption with big three in overtime.
- Anthony Wright (2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 0-6 (0-5 3pt) shooting): Anthony Wright is really struggling right now. He isn’t shooting the ball well and in my opinion doesn’t do the little things as well as Jevohn Shepherd. I’m sure Anthony can shoot the ball in practice but right now it’s just not translating on the court.
- Jevohn Shepherd (4 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound): Jevohn might not be making a huge dent on the stat sheet but he played hard and had a huge offensive rebound. He looks a lot more comfortable on the court and got in the lane a couple times and made his free throws. He is certainly carving out his own role on this team with his athleticism on the wing of the 1-3-1.
- Merritt and Grady combined for 3 points, 2 assists, 3 turnovers which is certainly less than ideal. Grady did a better job of breaking the press but the fast break still needs work. There were at least two blown fast breaks — an alley oop thrown over Manny and DeShawn as well as a wild bounce pass.
I don’t want to get into tournament talk or anything because I’m not ready to call this team a tournament team. No matter what your expectations are, this is a game Michigan can’t lose. But Michigan got it done, the odds looked slim at half time but they held in there and really fought.
Merritt on the win:
“It means a lot. Last year we had a couple games where we got down and we would come back, but we weren’t able to get over that hump. Today everything was thrown at us. They shot incredibly well in the first half; had us down by 20, but we never gave up and that paid off in the end.”
The officiating was awful for the entire game but I think for the most part it went both ways. I don’t want to use this blog to just complain about officiating but there were some really bad calls both ways. The loose ball off a Savannah State player’s chest in overtime is one that sticks out as just an awful call.
This type of performance won’t cut it in College Park on Wednesday. Michigan needs to play the full 40 minutes, and they can’t afford to spot the Terrapins points early in their first road game. DeShawn Sims needs to start the game whether that means Zack Gibson or Anthony Wright sits. Maryland will have played three games this weekend but they have performed better than expected in Orlando and will certainly be a tough test.
Similar to the week at the Garden we will learn a lot more about this team from Wednesday’s game at Maryland and our second shot at the Blue Devils.