After a devastating last-second lost to Northwestern earlier in the week, the Michigan Wolverines traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska for its final game of the 2016-17 regular season to try and bounce back before the Big 10 Tournament.
This game did not feature the drama the previous game did, as the Wolverines got business done and defeated the Cornhuskers 93-57.
Michigan began the game on an impressive 16-4 run that was evenly distributed among Derrick Walton (5 points), Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman (5), Moritz Wagner (3) and Zak Irvin (3). #TeamBall
Michigan didn’t let its foot off the gas pedal, as the score at halftime was 45-29. The team went a blistering 8-for-14 from 3-point range, and three Wolverines (Irvin, Abdur-Rahkman, Wagner) were in double-figure scoring. Nebraska made just 1-of-4 3-point shots in the first 20 minutes and 2-for-14 throughout the entire game.
Oh, and to go along with seven points and three steals, Walton had NINE assists.
Nineeeeeee assists. (First commenter who knows that reference gets major props from me).
Nebraska had only seven assists in the entire first half. To put it in simpler terms, Walton and the Wolverines owned Nebraska in the first half.
By the way, “Walton and the Wolverines” could totally be an old-school classic rock band name, if it isn’t already.
According to our very own Drew Hallett, Walton had a chance to break a UM record.
The Michigan record for most individual assists in a game is 14. Derrick Walton has 9 in the 1st half.— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) March 6, 2017
And break a record he did. Walton nailed his 15th assist of the night with about 5 and a half minutes to go in the game. He finished the game with 18 points, 16 assists and a career-high five steals.
Michigan started the second half the way it started the first half — en fuego.
D.J. Wilson hit an easy jumper, his first of the game actually, and Abdur-Rahkman followed that up with a 3-pointer. Add in a Walton jumper and Michigan has its largest lead of the night at the time (52-31).
Walton hit the double-double mark not even four minutes into the second half, and he continued to provide the offensive spark for the Wolverines throughout the entire game.
Every single Wolverine, except for Jon Teske, scored in this game. Four of the five starters had double-digit scoring. The team shot 63 percent from the field and 51.9 percent from its 3-pointers.
This was a big win for the Wolverines to close out the regular season and heading into the Big Ten Tournament as a middle-of-the-pack seed.
If the Wolverines have any chance of making a big run in the NCAA Tournament, Walton will have to continue to be an offensively efficient leader, Wagner will be heavily involved on both ends (as long as he isn’t in foul trouble) and the defense has to buckle down in the paint. Nebraska had a pretty powerful presence down low against the Wolverines — a lot of teams have done that against UM this year — so to compete with the top teams in the country, they will have to do all of that, and some.
Michigan plays Illinois in the second round of the Big 10 Tournament on Thursday at noon on Big 10 Network.