The last Nebraska game was a bit of a coming out party for freshman Derrick Walton, Jr. From his half-court heave at the end of the first half to hitting the game-winning layup, the point guard established himself as a viable rising star in the Big Ten.
The other storyline was how tense the game was, a slugfest that no one really expected. The new arena was packed, and Nebraska held a lead with 33 seconds left, leaving fans of the Big Red delirious. However, Michigan escaped 71-70, to spoil the upset hopes.
The game featured the unveiling of Nebraska’s Pinnacle Bank Arena, a state of the art facility in Lincoln. Whether it has been the Cornhuskers’ improvement or the new digs, Nebraska has been very tough at home. Michigan is their only loss there, with notable wins over Ohio State, Minnesota, and Indiana.
The Wolverines have not lost in the Crisler Center in over a month and a half, and the past two years haven’t seen more than one loss in Big Ten play on the Wolverines’ home court.
The Maize Rage organized a “jort-out” for the game, mocking Nebraska’s supposed affinity for jean shorts. Coach John Beilein, whose birthday is today, even got in on the fun, tweeting out his support of the jort movement.
The Cornhuskers’ success has been shouldered by their version of Glenn Robinson III, a guard-forward combo named Terrance Petteway. Athletic with a solid outside shot, the Texas Tech transfer is leading the Huskers with 18 points a game while taking a moderately efficient 12.7 shots per game. Beilein said Petteway could very well become the best player in the Big Ten.
His help comes in the former of another tweener-type , 6-7 Shavon Shields. Shields is averaging 11 points per game, while grabbing a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, Michigan is coming off their first loss in 10 games. The Wolverines lost an ugly game in Bloomington, allowing Indiana Hoosier star Yogi Ferrell to go off for 27 points, while not generating any offense of their own.
Nik Stauskas only scored six points, and the rest of the Wolverines had trouble picking up the slack of their leading scorer. Walton and Caris LeVert had decent showings, but neither were able to assert themselves as Indiana slowly pulled away late in the game.
This is a game Michigan should win, and one it desperately needs. The Wolverines’ schedule after Nebraska features away games with Ohio State and Iowa, and home rematches with Wisconsin and Michigan State. Michigan wants to win any game against lesser opponents to keep even with the Spartans atop the standings. A win tonight would allow them a little breathing room against the tough gauntlet in the near future.
The game is in Ann Arbor tonight, with tip-off on the Big Ten Network at 6:30.
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