Just when everybody was getting ready to say the eulogy for Michigan’s season, the Wolverines played their best game of the year by defeating Minnesota 71-63 at The Barn. The Wolverines led for most of the game and finally combined a really good defensive effort with a strong performance on the offensive end.
Apparently John Beilein made very good use of the 4 days Michigan had between the Wisconsin loss and this trip to the Twin Cities. The Wolverines played almost exclusively man-to-man defense and did a very good job guarding the Gophers. Minnesota’s offense was out of synch in the second half and they managed to hang around thanks to a slew of ticky-tack fouls that sent them to the charity stripe 16 times down the stretch.
Michigan led by one point at the break and rode a sizzling DeShawn Sims in the second half. Sims scored 21 points on 10 of 12 shooting in the second stanza. He was being spoon fed by Manny Harris, who dished out 6 assists to Sims in the second half. Darius Morris made sure Manny wasn’t left out as he dropped 3 dimes on Harris in the game.
Sims finished the game with 27 points and 7 rebounds. Manny Harris tallied 20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. Darius Morris was very impressive in 33 minutes of action against an aggressive Minnesota defense. He only turned the ball over twice while tallying 5 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal. He showed poise and savvy while running the ship in a hostile environment against a Gopher squad that leads the Big Ten in steals.
“Our team has been waiting to play that way for awhile,” said John Beilein. “Today, we got going early and built up a lead. In the second half we only missed a couple shots and played well.” Michigan shot 68% in the second half and 50% for the game. They also shot an efficient and season best 50% from three-point range, knocking down 7-14 from beyond the arc.
The Wolverines also did an outstanding job taking care of the ball as they only turned the ball over 8 times. Conversely, Minnesota had 16 turnovers that the Wolverines converted into 24 points. With the win Michigan improves to 12-12, 5-7.
Next up for Michigan is a trip to Iowa on Tuesday. They follow that up with back-to-back home games against Penn State and Illinois. All 3 of those games are winnable. Could the Wolverines take a 15-12, 8-7 record into the final 3 game stretch of the regular season (at Ohio State, Minnesota, at Michigan State)? I’m just wondering? “You build some momentum down to the end of the Big Ten season and you never know what can happen,” said Sims after the game.