There was a lot of fuss and buzz over Michigan's recent game in Columbus against top-ranked Ohio State, since there's no better measuring stick than playing the No. 1 team.
The Wolverines held the lead at halftime in that game, and they stayed right with the Buckeyes throughout before losing 62-53. There's no glory in coming close, but at least Michigan left Columbus feeling as if it had squandered an opportunity for a big upset, instead of departing with its tail tucked between its legs.
What Michigan learned during the 40 minutes with the Buckeyes is that this deep into the season, folks have a lot of data on the Wolverines and are devising methods to slow their offensive patterns.
"They played us differently than everyone else has played us by locking down all of the shooters," Michigan coach John Beilein said. His Wolverines had attempted 538 3-pointers coming into the Ohio State game, and they had made a living in more than a few games by dropping bombs from long range.
In their first meeting with the Buckeyes, the Wolverines went 11-for-24 from outside the arc in a close 68-64 loss. In the second meeting, Michigan had just six baskets from long range.
"They were keeping the ... game in the middle and shutting out all of our passes," Beilein said. "We tried to make some adjustments about how they were playing us, but they did a great job and took us out of some things."
As they move on and see most of their Big Ten opponents for a second time, the Wolverines can expect to see more of what the Buckeyes threw at them. Penn State tried it Feb. 6, but the Wolverines managed to convert nine of 19 from long range in a 65-62 win on the road. Michigan has been effective enough from long range that it can expect other teams to keep focusing on taking that away.
--Michigan had just six 3-pointers in its recent loss at Ohio State on Feb. 3, which is below its average of 8.45 per game, second best in the Big Ten through Feb. 6.
--When the Wolverines dropped a 62-53 decision at top-ranked Ohio State, it marked the 22nd loss in the 23 times in program history that Michigan has faced No. 1.
--Michigan's Darius Morris, who led the Big Ten in assists with 7.18 per game through Feb. 6, had just four in his team's loss at Ohio State.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Michigan sophomore F Jordan Dumars, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Joe Dumars, had yet to play a single minute for the Wolverines this season through Feb. 6.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've played so many of those good teams so far that I don't know if it matters if you're playing number 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. It depends on the kids. I know I don't look at it any differently." -- Michigan coach John Beilein, after facing so many ranked teams in Big Ten play, plus Kansas.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Northwestern, Feb. 9
KEY MATCHUPS: The Wildcats rely a lot on junior F John Shurna, when he's healthy. Shurna missed two of five recent games due to an injury, but his 18.5 points per game and his 52 percent shooting from outside the arc through Feb. 6 make him a big weapon. The Wolverines likely will have to use freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. with his length and athleticism to try to reduce Shurna's impact on the outcome. Senior G Michael Thompson is a great second option for Northwestern, and Michigan sophomore PG Darius Morris gets the assignment against him.
--vs. Indiana, Feb. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: Indiana suffered blow recently when it lost 6-foot-8 sophomore F Christian Watford for the season with a broken hand. In the first meeting between the two teams this season, Watford had 17 points, and Indiana was an 80-61 winner.
FUTURES MARKET: The Wolverines went deep behind enemy lines to land PG Trey Burke, a standout for Columbus Northland, the same school that produced Ohio State's sensational freshman F Jared Sullinger. Burke gave the Wolverines an early indication that he is fearless by showing up for the Michigan-Ohio State game dressed all in Michigan blue. Burke is expected to take some of the minutes load off Michigan sophomore PG Darius Morris, who has been playing almost 35 minutes per game this season.
--Sophomore PG Darius Morris moved into ninth place on Michigan's single-season assists list, passing Rumeal Robinson. Morris led Michigan in the Feb. 6 win at Penn State with 23 points, four rebounds and three assists.
--Sophomore G Matt Vogrich missed the recent Ohio State game with the flu. Vogrich tried to warm up but quickly retreated to the Michigan bench. He was healthy three days later at Penn State and played 23 minutes.
--Sophomore PG Darius Morris had the first triple-double against a Big Ten opponent in school history when he went for 12 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in the Jan. 30 win over Iowa.
--Freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. was one of the bright spots in the Wolverines' nine-point loss at Ohio State. Hardaway led Michigan in scoring with 15 points, and he had a couple of highlight-reel attacks on the basket.
UP NEXT: Michigan Wolverines
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