The Michigan Wolverines headed into College Park, Maryland to do battle with the No. 17 Maryland Terrapins. The Wolverines needed a win in order to stay in contention for the Big Ten regular-season championship.
Michigan started off the game struggling offensively as they missed six of their first seven shots, going scoreless in the first three minutes.
However, after back-to-back possessions of forcing the ball inside by Ignas Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole, the Wolverines trailed 6-4 at the under-16 timeout.
The two teams were knotted up at 10 after a few good defensive possessions by the Wolverines. Zavier Simpson hit a crazy hook shot over Maryland’s Bruno Fernando and freshman Colin Castleton put a Maryland defender on a poster.
The next five minutes of basketball didn’t go so well for Michigan. The Terrapins went on a 10-4 run including six points in less than a minute and a half because of sloppy offense by the Wolverines. Simpson responded by hitting his second hook shot of the afternoon. With under eight to play, Maryland led by four, 20-16.
Brazdeikis finally hit the first three-pointer for Michigan with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. The Wolverines opened the game 0-8 from deep.
After holding the Terrapins scoreless for the next five minutes, Michigan took their first lead of the game after a tip-in by Jon Teske. The Wolverines brought down nine offensive rebounds in the first half.
As time expired in the first half, Zavier Simpson drove to the lane and hit an acrobatic layup. Simpson scored or assisted on nine of the Wolverines ten field goals in the first half. The Wolverines led 28-24 at the break.
Despite a great first half performance, Simpson was forced to leave the second half early after picking up his third foul with 18:30 to play.
Without Simpson in the game, the Wolverine lead quickly collapsed. Maryland went on a 9-2 run in less than three minutes to take a 36-35 lead, forcing Beilein to take a timeout.
Michigan responded by hitting jumpers on back-to-back possessions. A three-pointer by the Terrapin’s Eric Ayala tied the game at 39 with 14 minutes remaining.
A slow-moving half continued for both teams until Simpson checked back in with 11 minutes remaining. Livers hit the third three of the game for Michigan on sixteen attempts. With eight and a half to go, the Wolverines led 46-43.
Simpson’s impact on the game on both sides of the ball continued to show as the Wolverines went on a 7-0 run after he checked back in.
With five and a half to go, Brazdeikis hit a three-pointer and Captain Hook hit his fourth hook shot of the ballgame, giving the Wolverines a 53-45.
Teske finally hit his first three-pointer with less than three minutes left, giving Michigan a 58-49 lead.
The teams traded buckets in the final two and a half minutes, but Michigan scored on six straight possessions to close things out. This included a huge three-pointer from Isaiah Livers. His shot put all Michigan starters in double figures. The Wolverines led 65-57 with less than a minute to play.
After hitting a few free throws, the Wolverines got a win on the road against the No. 17 Maryland Terrapins. The final score: 69-62.
The Wolverines were hot late in the game scoring 21 of their 41 second-half points in the final five and a half minutes of the game.
Potentially the most underrated component of the game was the Wolverines free throw shooting. The team went 13-15 from the charity stripe.
Brazdeikis led all scorers with 21 points and 7 rebounds on 6 of 12 shooting.
Two Michigan starters finished with a double-double. While Jon Teske didn’t shoot the ball well, going just 6-13 from the field, he finished with 11 points and 10 boards.
Simpson once again showed his worth to this team. He finished with 12 points, 10 assists, and 4 rebounds on 6-7 shooting. He was quite the floor general and continually finished at the rim with his beautiful hook shot.
With the win, the Wolverines stay alive in the race for the Big Ten regular-season title. They now sit a half-game below the Purdue Boilermakers and a half-game above the Michigan State Spartans.
Michigan will face Michigan State in their final game of the regular season on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.