At the start of the Big Ten season, Michigan would either start or finish strong. But never do both. In the majority of their defeats, the young Wolverines had a five to ten minute period where they were more likely to get hit by an asteroid that hit a jumper. Despite 30 or 35 minutes of solid play, Michigan somehow managed to freeze up at a critical point in the game.
That was the story Thursday night in Minneapolis, as the Gophers put an end to Michigan's three game winning streak and kept their own NCAA hopes alive in a 69-60 win over the Wolverines. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims had 16 a piece in the game, but failed to score after the 15 minute mark of the second half.
Despite lacking contributions from their leading scorers, Michigan led midway through the second. However, after Zach Gibson put Michigan up by three at 52-49, Michigan went ice cold, scoring only 8 points over the final 9 and a half minutes going 3-18 from the field. Over the course of this game ending drought, Michigan missed as many layups as they did three point shots.
And so the winning streak comes to an end. Strangely, it's not necessarily a bad thing. This team has spent its season learning how to deal with adversity. Success is not something they've spent a lot of time preparing for. But it will come. Now they know that their jump shot won't always be there and that the bounces are as fickle when you're winning as when you're losing.
So another lesson will be learned and they will emerge stronger as a result. Illinois awaits on Saturday. Here's hoping for a meteor shower.
Saturday's game against Illinois will be Jalen Rose night, celebrating the Michigan Alumni's generous contributions to the community and generally not being Chris Webber. As the Free Press points out, it's going be a little awkward honoring a member of the Fab Five when you can't reference one of their members.
Manny Harris didn't take a shot in the last 10 minutes and registered only four points in the second half.
DeShawn Sims was 1-8 from three point range in the second half.
Ekpe Udoh was 1-9 from the field, grabbed 8 boards and had 4 steals. Oddly, he didn't have a single block. I can't remember the last time he played and didn't alter a shot or two.
Michigan was on the negative side of the assist to turnover ratio for the first time since their win over Penn State. Michigan dished only 10 assists compared to 14 turnovers. Manny Harris led the team in the turnover department with 5 and registered only a single assist.
Why is Zach Gibson shooting threes? He went 1-5 from three and 1-2 near the basket. Time to make the correlation Zach.
Anthony Wright played 26 minutes and scored 2 points. With Merritt gone for the season, Wright has to step up as a primary bench player. He's going to see a lot of time.
Highlights Courtesy of the Big Ten Network