It took overtime to decide a victor on Tuesday night in Evanston, but the visiting Michigan Wolverines came out firing in the extra period to keep their Big Ten regular season title hopes alive. The Wolverines attempted a Big Ten season-high 38 (!) three-pointers in the 67-55 win, and were paced by Trey Burke's game-high 19 points.
Winners of four straight league games for the first time all year, Michigan will return home to Ann Arbor on Saturday to play host to a pesky Purdue team. And with Ohio State also picking up a victory earlier in the evening, the two rivals remain tied at 11-4 in the conference and a half game back of Big Ten-leading Michigan State.
Check back with Maize n Brew for full coverage of UM's win here tomorrow. In the meantime, a few thoughts...
- Northwestern's 1-3-1 zone did its job tonight. Michigan didn't commit many turnovers (seven total), which is always a plus, but the Wolverines spent most of their possessions chucking the ball over the heads of defenders. And this is the main reason why we saw so many three-point attempts. For the most part these were often the best looks UM could get late in the shot clock after expending so much of the possession keeping the zone honest.
- Foul trouble remains very real problem that could sink this squad against an elite team, and we saw a glimpse of this in the first half. Smotrycz and Morgan were each forced to bench with a pair of fouls less than six minutes into this game, and without these two on the floor the vibe really began to change in Northwestern's favor. Second chance opportunities became all too prevalent, and Michigan didn't really have an option other than to jack up threes at the other end. The Wildcats took a seven-point lead into the half almost entirely because of Michigan's lack of personnel/defensive rebounding before the break.
- Michigan's perimeter defense was exceptional. Guys were rotating and switching seamlessly all night. Beilein and his staff are really going to be pleased when they look at the tape of how well these kids played as a team on the defensive end.