After a 12-2 run early in the second half that put the Michigan Wolverines up 48-37, it looked like they might run away with their third consecutive blowout. That was not the case. The Northwestern Wildcats immediately fought back and dominated the game for the next 12 minutes, going on a 25-7 run, and leading 62-55 with 5 minutes left.
Let’s not sugarcoat this: Michigan absolutely had to have this game. With 5 minutes to play, it didn’t look they were going to get it. With a big lead blown in the second half, flashbacks to Seton Hall and UCF began to surface.
Then Michigan flipped a switch. Despite Moussa Diabate and Hunter Dickinson both fouling out late, The Wolverines were able to come back and win thanks to clutch three pointers from Devante Jones, Terrance Williams and Caleb Houstan. What was the key? Staying calm and taking deep breathes.
“I loved it,” Jones said when asked out the attitude of the team down the stretch. “At the beginning of the season in those moments you would see a lot of us down, not really having the energy that we needed, but today, Jace Howard did a great job of telling everyone to breathe. We were down seven with five minutes left, and Juwan Howard just told us to breathe, a lot of energy, we’re going through a lot of emotions, but he told us to be us. We got out there and got some stops, made some big threes, and also made some free throws that helped us win the game today.”
Michigan has been in this position a couple times this year, like in those previously mentioned Seton Hall and UCF games. The team feels as if they’ve grown from going through those experiences and that it helped them find a way to win this one.
“Let’s call it what it is,” Juwan Howard said after the game. “Seton Hall, I think there was another close one that we had that we dropped, that probably would’ve been a loss tonight. I think we grew up from this.”
Now Michigan has to immediately shift focus to Saturday for the big one. The Wolverines take on rival Michigan State at the Breslin Center in what is always an exciting matchup. Michigan has significantly improved their NCAA Tournament resume over the last three games, and a win on Saturday would look real good on there, too.