Look around the local papers and blogs, and two words will pop up again and again regarding last night’s 69-45 victory over Indiana: ugly and sloppy. The first half certainly fell into both those categories, as the two teams combined for 21 turnovers in a first half that only saw 48 total points. The second half, however, was a different story: Michigan held onto the ball (just four turnovers), Manny Harris caught fire (17 second-half points), and Michigan ended the game on a 21-2 run that turned a hard-fought contest into a laugher.
So, yes, the game was ugly. I certainly wouldn’t have tuned in to ESPN and watched if I didn’t have a rooting interest. But for Michigan, this was exactly what the team needed. DeShawn Sims continued his great play, carrying the load in the first half en route to 21 points (on 8-13 shooting), eight rebounds, and two blocks. Harris shook off an ugly first half to spark the finishing run. The Wolverines were able to offset another poor day from the three-point line (4-18) with great days from two-point range (20-34) and the free-throw line (17-19). The supporting cast, while not explosive, did what was asked of them. Besides the first-half turnovers, Michigan put in a very solid effort. A few more thoughts on the game:
- Darius Morris, despite unspectacular stat lines (against Indiana: four points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals), continues his quick maturation as a point guard. He only committed one turnover — an ambitious no-looker that couldn’t make it through two defenders — managed the game well, and played solid defense. Right now, that’s exactly what Michigan is looking for from Morris. I’m guessing he’ll see more minutes, and potentially even a spot in the starting lineup, if his play continues to improve.
- The supporting cast did a great job on defense and helping Sims on the boards — LLP and Zack Novak both finished with five rebounds, and even Matt Vogrich chipped in two, including one on the offensive end that he converted for a nice putback. The team defense was great all game, and if the guards can rebound like this with consistency, it will continue to be solid.
- Stu Douglass struggled as a shooter again, contributing just four points on 1-5 shooting, but he’s finding other ways to be valuable to the team. Against Indiana, he was the savvy defender, grabbing three steals. Douglass needs to get back on track soon, but in every facet besides his shot, he has come a long way as a basketball player.