The Michigan basketball team powered past Nebraska 71-70 in an old-fashioned nail-biter in Lincoln. The impressive road win, on the back of a stellar performance from Glenn Robinson III, extends Michigan’s undefeated record in Big 10 play to 3-0.
In a game that was characterized by frequent lead changes and strong offensive performances on both sides, the Wolverines were able to secure the win chiefly thanks to two integral shots from freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr; The first was a half-court heave just before the halftime buzzer, sure to be featured on highlight reels tomorrow, the second a vital, ultimately game-winning and-one layup in the closing moments of the second half.
Thursday’s matchup was about as even as a game could be, with both teams trading baskets throughout the contest; Nebraska posted a 54% field goal percentage while Michigan converted an exceptional 62%.
1. Glenn Robinson III- The Little Dog put forth a superstar effort in the win, converting from all over the court to the tune of 9-of-12 from the field. He also contributed 4 rebounds, a key steal and a now-typical array of GR3-esque highlight reel slam dunks. This is the performance that Michigan fans want to see night in and night out from Robinson III, especially against Big 10 opponents. Time will tell if this trend is here to stay or just a fluke.
2. Jordan Morgan- In the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is the Michigan frontcourt without Mitch McGary, someone needed to step up and be Will Smith in I Am Legend. That heroic someone on Thursday night was Jordan Morgan.
15 points on 7-of-9 shooting maximized JoMo’s confidence and solidified him as a force in the paint throughout the Wolverines’ win. While he definitely exhibited some signs of timidity under the basket, he was invaluable in the pick-and-roll as well as on defense, and effectively demanded attention from defenders. While Morgan’s performance was nothing short of outstanding, Coach John Beilein will definitely try to further incorporate Jon Horford into the frontcourt so as to strengthen the post presence in the absence of the preseason All-Big 10 McGary.
3. Derrick Walton Jr.- It would be an absolute crime to leave him off the list. The freshman point guard tacked on 10 points and 4 assists, and was responsible for arguably the two most significant shots of the entire game. The 42-foot half court prayer was nothing short of spectacular, as it revitalized the Wolverines on their way into the locker room. But the truly remarkable play came as the clock wound down with Michigan trailing by one. Walton drove hard down the baseline, absorbed contact from Leslee Smith, a 6-foot-8 power forward, and finished with a George Gervin-like finger roll, securing the and-one, and then was mobbed by his teammates.
Michigan’s defense held in the final 9 seconds as Nebraska high-scorer Terran Petteway missed a last-second layup, which was followed by a series of painstakingly close near tip-ins before the final horn sounded and Michigan hustled off the court with the W. This game marks Michigan’s third Big 10 victory in as many matchups, pushing them closer to a return to the Top 25. The Wolverines will face Penn State in the Crisler Center Tuesday Jan. 14 at 8:00 PM.