The Morning After is our semi-daily recap of the night's best basketball action.
No. 19 Michigan 60, No. 9 Michigan State 59: Raise your hand if you assumed that Michigan State’s late push spelled the end for the Wolverines in the latter’s 60-59 victory in Ann Arbor Tuesday night. Michigan built up a seemingly comfortable lead in the second half (47-36 with 12:24 remaining after Trey Burke scored seven points in a row), but the Spartans just chipped at it until they seized a 50-49 edge (their first of the game) on Brandan Kearney’s 3-pointer from the corner with 6 minutes, 49 seconds to go.
But Michigan fed off its crowd to push back and win the game on a Stu Douglass layup with 36 seconds to play. The Wolverines really sealed the victory, however, with a crucial defensive stop on the Spartans’ final possession. Jordan Morgan blocked Keith Appling, but Brandon Wood recovered the ball. Draymond Green drove to the bucket but missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer. Now that’s a rivalry game.
Give Michigan credit for dictating the game (the Wolverines shot 51 percent from the field and forced 14 turnovers). Michigan State spent 40 minutes trying to decipher the Wolverines’ offense. The Spartans knew that Michigan would rely on the 3-ball, but they couldn’t stop it early. Three of Michigan’s first five field goals were 3s.
When the Wolverines got cold from beyond the arc (6-for-21 in the game), they attacked the rim. It was an impressive win by a Wolverines team that’s playing without a true center and just one post man (Jordan Morgan), now that Jon Horford is sidelined with a foot injury.
Here are five more observations from the Michigan-Michigan State game:
Michigan did a great job of limiting Green, a national player of the year candidate, to just seven points. But Green also hurt himself. He took eight shots and at least three of them were bad shots. Can’t understand why Green & Co. settled for tough jump shots instead of going inside against an undersized Michigan squad more often.
John Beilein shook up his starting lineup by inserting Douglass into the mix and removing Evan Smotrycz. Douglass (nine points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal) hit the game-winner and brought a lot of energy to the floor for a Wolverines squad that’s lacked it in recent games.
Yes, Cody Zeller might be the most talented player in the Big Ten. But I’m still giving my freshman of the year nod to Burke (20 points, 8-for-11). Remember, this team lost an NBA point guard in Darius Morris. And yet, the Wolverines are better with Burke in the lineup.
Looks like another Big Ten officiating crew has some explaining to do. With two minutes to play, Appling fumbled the ball on the in-bounds (it bounced off his foot) and was whistled for a backcourt violation. Tom Izzo was rightfully upset because it did not appear that Appling had established control when the ball crossed halfcourt. Where have we seen this one before? The Big Ten disciplined officials who made the same call in Minnesota’s 58-55 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The refs from last night’s game might hear from the league, too. Check out NCAA men’s basketball Rule 4, Section 3, Article 6 which says, “After the throw-in ends, an inbounds player in the front court, who is not in control of the ball, may cause the ball to go into the back court.”
Last night’s game was proof that the Big Ten is as competitive as many assumed it would be entering the year. The gap between the top tier and everyone else continues to shrink. Ohio State should win the Big Ten title. Right now, however, I think five teams (the Buckeyes, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Illinois) will make a serious push for the league’s crown in the coming month, especially with so many squads playing tough at home.
Everywhere Else: Anthony Davis (career-high 27 points) established a new school record for blocked shots in a season with seven swats in Kentucky’s 86-63 win over Arkansas. That ain’t right. … Florida State followed its weekend beatdown of the Tar Heels with an 84-70 home victory against Maryland. Deividas Dulkys, who scored a career-high 32 points against the Tar Heels, fell back to earth with a six-point performance. … Jason Clark gave Georgetown a career-high 31 points in his team’s 83-75 road win over DePaul.