Despite the indication that both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Northwestern's Reggie Hearn would sit this game out, lo and behold they both found themselves shooting around and taking part in layup lines leading up to the tip. THJ started the game for Michigan and Hearn suited up but, after not playing in the first half, it was clear he wasn't going to go.
It was all Michigan early. The Wolverines, lead by Trey Burke (who else?), postively ambushed the short-handed Wildcats, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. The lead eventually became a 20-4 lead before a pair of uncharacteristic turnovers lead to a three and a layup for the Wildcats on back-to-back possessions.It was pretty easy to forgive these mistakes, as Burke had racked up 13 points in just five minutes of play, slicing up the NU defense like it was the Michigan secondary (sorry, too soon).
Meanwhile, the Wildcats were just dysfunctional on offense. With nobody (other than SOBOCOP to take Michigan on from outside, the 'Cats kept feeding Alex Olah, who awkwardly derped around in the post and failed to convert his touches into points.
The Wolverines annihilated NU on the boards as well, boasting a 12-4 rebounding advantage by the 5:29 mark of the half.
Up 18, NU freshman Tre Demps hit a jumper and a three on back-to-back possessions, sandwiching a Michigan trip in which JMo failed to convert at the rim. Morgan picked up a technical after getting called for traveling following an offensive rebound, but Kale Abrahamson only hit 1 of 2 (BALL DON'T LIE*).
Two THJ treys and a GRIII alley oop later, however, and Michigan had cut the mini-NU run short, extending the lead back to 47-25. The 'Cats simply weren't getting anything easy, however, after a sort of awkward start, Alex Olah racked up 10 points on 4/8 shooting.
Michigan went into the half with a whopping 51 points; to quote Coach Bacari Alexander, they "tore 'em up."
For the record, Michigan scored just 49 points in regulation time the last time they visited Welsh-Ryan. This time, they had 51 at the half.
Halftime Stats (Michigan 51, Northwestern 30)
Michigan PPP (points per possession): 1.42 (!!!)
- Burke: 6/10, 15 pts, 3 steals
- THJ: 4/4 from 3, 12 pts
- Stauskas: 3/7 (1/4 from 3), 7 pts
Northwestern PPP: 0.81
- SOBOCOP: 1/3, 2 pts, 4 assists
- Olah: 4/8, 10 pts
- Abrahamson: 3/6 (2/6 from 3), 9 pts
The Wolverines picked up where they left off in the second half, with JMo rebounding and cashing in a missed Stauskas trey.
Northwestern hit a pair of threes, but like it had done all game, Michigan rallied back with a vehement desire to score lots of points, a desire matched only by Mitch McGary's predilection for crunkly antics.Every time NU showed a vague ability to cut into the lead even a tiny amount, Michigan stormed back like Jadeveon Clowney hit dot gif.
Just to put this supernova of a performance into perspective, Michigan had accomplished all of this while Stauskas had shot just 1/6 from beyond the arc by the 14:18 mark of the second half. Remember what would happen when Stu Douglass and Zack Novak had a 1/6 night from three? That doesn't happen anymore, as Michigan has apparently shed the albatross that is complete and utter dependence on the three. With that said, Burke and THJ shooting a combined 8/9 from downtown sort of obviated the need for Stauskas to be Stauskas on this particular night.
As far as the bench goes, I don't remember Spike Albrecht getting into the game until about six or seven minutes into the second half, which was sort of odd given the lead Michigan had amassed from the very beginning. Caris LeVert came in and gave the Wolverines some valuable minutes, hitting a nice three from the left wing after a THJ drive and dish, and pitching in two rebounds and two assists through by approximately the halfway point of the second half.
It was another crunkly performance for Mitch "Crunk" McGary, who continues to demonstrate the symptom of over-anxiousness known as Denarditis. It is as charming as any ailment could possibly be, but is not always conducive to steady, consistent play. On the bright side, nobody can question McGary's hustle. After managing a steal, he completely lost the ball out of bounds just past half court in the open floor, but made sure to dive in an attempt to save the ball. That's the essence of Crunk. It was another supremely active game defensively and on the glass for the young Mr. McGary.
The game suddenly became a track meet at around the 9- or 10-minute mark, as Michigan kept grabbing rebounds and pushing the action up the floor. An open Jordan Morgan thunderdunk made it 78-52 at the 8:50 mark. It was the closest thing to the "showtime" Lakers as a college team can get while playing a short-handed Northwestern team. THJ, Burke and others were crossing Wildcat defenders over all game en route to easy mid-range jumpers and, at worst, a number of Kobe assists.
Michigan was lights out from the field, kept Northwestern off of the free throw line (despite the college home court advantage) and absolutely dominated on the glass. Turnovers were about even, but in three of the so called "four factors," Michigan blew the Wildcats out of the water.
Once NU regains the services of Reggie Hearn, I would not be surprised to see them pick off one of the top six or seven teams in the conference in Welsh-Ryan. On this night, however, being in the vicinity of Pat Fitzgerald's voluminous grit aura could do only so much for Carmody's 'Cats.
After this win, the Wolverines moved to 14-0 (1-0), with their conference home opener on Sunday against the Iowa Hawkeyes (12 ET, BTN).