Instant Analysis: Michigan fends off Penn State 71-65

Mar 1, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) during the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall. Michigan won 72-61. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

Needing a victory to position itself for share at a Big Ten title, Michigan held off a late-surging Penn State team 71-65 in Sunday's season finale. The win moved the Wolverines to 23-8 overall and 13-5 in conference play, capping off one of the most impressive campaigns the basketball program has posted in a long, long while.

The Wolverines were paced by 19 points from sensational freshman guard Trey Burke, staking a strong claim as the logical frontrunner for the Big Ten's Newcomer of the Year award. Elsewhere, PTPer Evan Smotrycz added 17 of his own on just seven shots off the bench, and the now confidence-infused Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 13 despite a team-high five turnovers.

Quick thoughts...

  • It took Jordan Morgan nearly 28 minutes to score a point today, and the big man produced yet another forgettable line (2 points, 5 rebounds, 3 fouls). Regardless of the splinters he picked up from being in persistent foul trouble, it's bothersome that a kid so talented can't produce with any consistency.
  • The 3-ball was red-hot early. Michigan drained 8-of-12 from the perimeter in the first 24 minutes,and then went 1-of-6 over the final 16. This cold stretch coincided perfectly with Penn State's late charge to render an 18-point deficit obsolete.
  • Stu Douglass was dishin'. Douglass tied a season-high with six assists today, one shy of a career mark he set back as a sophomore. Michigan can really use a secondary distributor alongside Burke, and this might be the best role for Douglass if UM is going to make a deep Big Ten/NCAA run.
  • Seeing back-to-back four-point plays from both teams in the final five minutes was absolutely ridiculous. How many times has this ever happened in college basketball history? Like 13?

Check back soon with Maize n Brew for more hoops coverage. For now, let's try to root for that team from Ohio. (pukes)

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