The Wildcats came into town with the intention of doing what Purdue did at Michigan: hit some threes early and then just sort of hang around until the second half. Luckily, Northwestern hit a couple of outside shots early, taking a 7-5 lead after a Reggie Hearn three from well behind the three-point line.
Hearn engaged in the mannerisms of the underdog: hitting the early three, clapping, slapping hands with teammates running back down the floor, saying things like "let's get a stop!" This is also known as "my entire high school basketball career," and from experience, I can say that this sort of reaction is borne out of hopelessness more than it is optimism.
Michigan then began in its attempts to bury Northwestern as early in the game as possible. The Wolverines jumped out to a 23-11 lead by the 11:00 minute mark, having missed just one shot to this point. Glenn Robinson III already racked up two rim-shaking dunks and Nik Stauskas effortlessly buried a pair of threes, from the right wing and corner.
Defensively, minus a Tre Demps layup, Michigan didn't give up anything save a barrage of outside shots, which is fine. Michigan forced the 'Cats into two shot clock violations in 11:16 of play. Early on, Jon Horford turned into Gandalf and did not let Alex Olah pass, blocking his shot once and forcing an awkward miss another time.
The speed and skill with which Michigan played during these supernova was almost like that of an NBA team, which I suppose makes sense. On one secondary break, Burke zinged a pass to GRIII in the left corner. He could've taken the shot, but passed it to Hardaway on the wing, and THJ passed it out to a wide open Stauskas on the right wing. Not to mix metaphors, but it was like watching an elite infield turned a double play.
Things were going so well that on one possession late in the half, the announcers praised Stauskas's defense after he locked down Tre Demps like he had become a Canadian version of The Glove.*
Adding to the nothing can do wrong pile: on one loose ball situation, Mitch McGary saved a ball at the baseline by flinging it behind his back, looking almost as if it was a perfectly well-intentioned pass. Of course, the ball shortly found its way to Nik Stauskas, who nailed a three. This is how basketball works.
It wasn't quite as prolific a half as its counterpart on Jan. 3, but Michigan went into the half up 36-21, with a team eFG% of 72%.
*Not just a shooter!
Michigan PPP: 1.53
- Burke: 4/6, 10 pts, 6 assists
- Stauskas: 3/4, 9 pts
- GRIII: 4/4, 8 pts
Northwestern PPP: 1.0
- Hearn: 2/6, 3 rebounds, 5 points
- SOBOCOP: 2/4, 3 rebounds, 5 points
- Marcotullio: 2/2, 5 pts