We haven’t been able to say this much this season, but Michigan has built up some momentum. The Wolverines thrashed the Nebraska Cornhuskers Wednesday night, 93-72.
Entering Wednesday’s game, the Wolverines haven’t won three games in a row since the beginning of the season. They’ve now done it again — all against Big Ten teams — after beating Northwestern on the road last week and Ohio State on Sunday.
This was the sole matchup the Wolverines have with the Cornhuskers this season. Juwan Howard is now 6-0 in his tenure against Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers are one of the worst teams in the Big Ten; with a 4-9 conference record and an 11-13 overall record, they’re currently 12th in the Big Ten standings.
With the big matchup against Indiana on Saturday, this had all the makings for a classic trap game. While Nebraska made a couple runs to keep it within striking distance, the Wolverines shot the ball too well (57.6% from the field, 53.8% from three) to lose this one.
Here are some takeaways from the win.
A game of runs, especially in that first half
Both teams shot the ball pretty well in the first half, and had it not been for a late push by the Cornhuskers, Michigan could have easily been up by more than 20.
The Wolverines got off to a hot start and from the 14:34 mark to the 6:58 half, they went on a lengthy 30-5 run capped off by this Joey Baker three.
Joey Baker peak confidence pic.twitter.com/0yxtVIBw15— Shot of Michigan Sports (@shotofms) February 9, 2023
That run helped them gain a 24-point lead on the Cornhuskers, and they could have put this away early had it not been for a 17-5 run that Nebraska went on to close the half.
We saw something similar happen to open the second half; Michigan’s lead got as high as 21 thanks to a 21-8 run, but Nebraska responded with a 13-3 run and ultimately got the lead as low as nine before Michigan pulled away.
Those offensive bursts by Michigan was encouraging, but not keeping the foot on the pedal and allowing Nebraksa to close the half on that run was a little frustrating.
A balanced scoring night, but too many turnovers
As is usually the case for blowouts, we saw the Wolverines have a balanced scoring attack. Jett Howard led the way with 22 points, but six players ended up scoring in double figures.
Nebraska is AWFUL defensively, but it’s nice to see the Wolverines moving the ball well and not just relying on a couple guys to do all the scoring.
The one major negative to take away from this game is Michigan didn’t take care of the ball well at all and turned it over 13 times, five more than Nebraska. The Wolverines haven’t had an issue with that all season; they average 9.6 turnovers per game, a mark that’s fifth-best in the country and third-best in the Big Ten behind Penn State and Wisconsin.
Hopefully the Wolverines aren’t this sloppy the rest of the way, because they can’t afford to make that many mistakes against better teams in the conference.
Joey Baker is the scorer this team needs off the bench
The senior Duke transfer had another solid outing in this one, scoring 11 points, with coming in the first half.
After an up-and-down start to the season, Baker has really made an impact in the last few games. He had 11 points starting in place of Jett Howard against Purdue, 14 points in the Northwestern win and eight points off the Ohio State win.
Michigan needs his three-point shooting to provide a scoring punch and space out the floor while Jett Howard or Terrance Williams II get some rest. If the Wolverines want to make a tournament push, they are going to need him to keep shooting well.
Terrance Williams II had a solid game
Stealing a nickname from my friends on the Out of the Blue podcast, Terry Two Sticks made some solid contributions in this one, making his first three shots and pouring in 10 points.
After filling his role well last season as one of the first guys off the bench, Williams II has struggled a bit all year in the starting lineup. His three-point shot hasn’t fallen as much (he shot 38.5% on 1.7 attempts per game last year and has shot 27.1% on 2.6 attempts this season), and it seems as if he’s struggled to get a footing at times.
Wednesday’s game was the first time since the Maryland win we saw T-Will score in double digits. Hopefully it’s the confidence boost he needs to finish the year strong because the Wolverines are going to need him as a defender and rebounder in close games.
When looking at Michigan’s tournament hopes, a lot of games moving forward are must-wins, especially this next one. The Wolverines host Indiana on Saturday, one of the best teams in the Big Ten who’s 20th in the NET rankings and has won seven of its last eight games.
This would be Michigan’s best win of the season by far if it can come away victorious. It would give the Wolverines a Quad 1 win and their first four-game winning streak of the season.