The Spartans battle past the Wolverines 54-42 in a 55-possession game. StatSheet box score.
This is not the bar graph we were expecting:
They turned the ball over more than we did. And we barely outrebounded them.
In the end, it came down to creating scoring opportunities. We converted 2 more field goals and 9 more free throws against their zone defenses than they did against our man-to-man defense.
Travis Walton defended Manny Harris as well as any human alive possibly could have. He stuck to him like glue when Harris tried to run off screens in the first half. Eventually Harris resorted to trying to take Walton one on one. But, outside of one pull-up 3-pointer, he was unsuccessful. Without any consistent Wolverine shooting threats, the MSU defenders were free to sag off their men and cut Harris off from getting into the lane. Harris finished 2-10 from the field, with 4 turnovers.
DeShawn Sims was the only Wolverine to score in double digits, posting 18 points on 9-14 shooting. Some of those scores came off excellent post moves. Some of them were a function of the MSU defense being focused on staying extended out on the 4 perimeter players Michigan had on the floor at any given time.
Subtract the contributions of the two UM big men (Sims and Zach Gibson) and the Wolverines shot just 5-28 from the field. 21 of those shots came from 3-point range. The MSU defense gave the Michigan guards no breathing room whatsoever to operate in.
On the other end of the court, Delvon Roe finally put together the kind of game we’ve been hoping for against a smaller lineup: 14 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. He took advantage of the mismatch against Zach Novak and the other guards that were matched up with him inside–and made 4 of 6 free throws to boot.
- How about the Kalin Lucas 3-pointer to stretch the lead back to 7? Remarkable confidence shooting the ball off the screen, given that Lucas was 0-2 and the team was 2-13 on 3-pointers up to that point.
- I love Austin Thornton as much as anyone, but I don’t think inserting him into the game against the 1-3-1 with 28 minutes already gone by in the game was a great move. The offense had a couple rough possessions with Thornton in the game, when the opportunity was there to extend the lead back to double digits.
- Marquise Gray may be out of a job. He played just 2 minutes, getting yanked after a defensive lapse that allowed DeShawn Sims to dunk the ball. Meanwhile, Draymond Green got 17 minutes down the stretch and scored what was perhaps the back-breaking basket off a set play against the 1-3-1 with two and a half minutes left. Green had 3 assists, too, helping to attack the interior of the UM defense.
This was a much uglier win that we might have hoped for, but it’s a win nonetheless. I’m disappointed we didn’t have a more efficient way to attack the 1-3-1. At least we’re done playing teams that employ it (until the conference tournament, at least).
At 10-2, we can sit back, watch our competitors play a couple games, get healthy, and prepare for the game in West Lafayette next Tuesday (7:00, ESPN).