With the last place team in the conference coming into the Crisler Center as a 25-point underdog, anything other than a smashing victory would have been somewhat disappointing.
Through the first five minutes, PSU stuck with Michigan, holding a 9-8 lead going into the first TV timeout. It was still too early to start fashioning some sort of worry out of this, but Trey Burke once again carried Michigan to start, scoring seven of Michigan's first eight points. Burke nailed a couple of threes, made a nice finish in transition and broke down a PSU defender from up top. As mercurial as Michigan's freshmen can be, you might as well call Trey "Planck" because he's constant.
Unfortunately, nobody else was doing much of anything. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mitch McGary both airballed jumpers, and Michigan doesn't have anyone threatening to create off the bounce other than Trey Burke. The Nittany Lions led 14-9 after the second timeout, having rattled off a 9-1 run with them making all the gritty, hustle plays that a 25-point underdog needs to do to survive through the first 20 minutes.
Through nine minutes, Burke was the only Wolverine with a made field goal. However, things were even less pleasant on the defensive end. On one set, guard Nick Colella went from the right side to his left, driving to the rim unimpeded and somehow not getting swatted by McGary. I think it's safe to say that not many people predicted Michigan would be down by eight at any point in this game; but, here they were.
PSU was the aggressor, as Michigan fired away from outside, mostly missing. Another Burke three from the same corner as the first one cut the lead to 18-14, but it was Michigan's first field goal in about seven minutes. Hardaway hit his patented free throw line jumper at the 8:23 mark, the first non-Burke field goal of the game.
Michigan was once again looking terrifyingly one-dimensional, Stauskas was 0/3 from beyond the arc and PSU was making all of the little plays that it seems like Michigan hasn't made in some time.
On the bright side, Glenn Robinson III awoke from his slumber, slamming down a pair of dunks about a minute apart, the latter on a quite crunkly no look pass from McGary.
It was nice to see GRIII get on the stat sheet in a big way in this first half, but otherwise it was a half to forget. Michigan could not defend against a PSU team playing without two of its key offensive contributors for long stretches due to foul trouble. We already knew this, but to see it happen against the worst team in the conference is a little disheartening (even if it is just the first half).
Halftime Stats (Michigan 32, Penn State 32)
Michigan PPP: 1.05
- Burke: 5/9, 14 pts
- GRIII: 2/2 (4/6 from the FT line), 8 pts, 4 rebounds
- Stauskas: 1/4, 6 pts, 4/4 from the FT line
Penn State PPP: 1.03
- Marshall: 3/5, 9 pts
- Borovnjak: 3/4, 7 pts
- Travis: 2/4, 7 pts, 6 rebounds