The TSX Files: Michigan Hoops

Wolverines' Big 10 defense has been offensive. Michigan has players capable of putting up big numbers, but it does not have the consistent offensive firepower to outscore people on a regular basis, so the Wolverines will need to do more on the defensive end.

GETTING INSIDE

Wolverines' Big 10 defense has been offensive
As recently as mid-December, the Wolverines were feeling pretty good about themselves on the defensive end. A little over a month of competition in the Big Ten and the slap of reality that came with it has pretty much snuffed out those positive vibes.
Michigan went through its first 11 games with solid defensive performances. The Wolverines held opponents to 35, 44
, 50, 50, and 51 points in that stretch, and never allowed anyone to score more than 65. In the Big Ten opener, Purdue put an 80-spot up on the Wolverines, and that might have been a harbinger of the tougher times ahead. Since Big Ten play starter, only one Michigan opponent has scored fewer than 60, Michigan State in a 61-57 loss to the Wolverines.
Michigan entered its second meeting of the season against rival Ohio State with a 3-6 mark in the Big Ten. The Wolverines suffered through a six-game losing streak in January as they struggled to match up with more experienced and stronger Big Ten teams.
The game with the Buckeyes marked the midway point in the Big Ten schedule for Michigan, and as the Wolverines try and position themselves for the conference tournament and a possible bid beyond that, they are aware their defense needs to improve.
Michigan has players capable of putting up big numbers, but it does not have the consistent offensive firepower to outscore people on a regular basis, so the Wolverines will need to do more on the defensive end.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: The Wolverines shook off a slow start and challenged the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes. After trailing by seven points early, Michigan evened the score midway through the first half and took a 26-23 lead at the break. The Buckeyes mounted a run in the second half and reclaimed the lead, but the Wolverines (13-10, 3-7 in the Big Ten) stayed close the rest of the way. Michigan got 15 points from freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and 12 from sophomore point guard Darius Morris. The Wolverines were limited to only 6-of-19 shooting from outside the arc and were out-rebounded, 36-28, by the Buckeyes. "They did a good job of defending us and they took us out of some things," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Ohio State is really good. There's a reason why they're undefeated." Ohio State (23-0, 10-0) was led by freshman center/forward Jared Sullinger with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

NOTES, QUOTES

--In its 62-53 loss to No. 1 Ohio State, Michigan scored 10 of its 26-first half points off Ohio State turnovers.
--Michigan faced the No. 1 team in the country for the 23rd time in its history. The Wolverines are 1-22 in those meetings after losing to the Buckeyes. Michigan's only win over a No. 1 team came in 1997, when the Wolverines beat top-ranked Duke in Crisler Arena.
--Before they knocked off the Michigan State, 61-57, in a recent Big Ten game, the Wolverines had dropped 11 consecutive games in East Lansing.
--With his 12 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a recent road victory at Iowa, sophomore PG Darius Morris became the third Michigan player to register a triple-double.
--F Zack Novak equaled a career high with his six three-pointers a recent win at Michigan State.
--Construction continues on Michigan's new player development center, a $23.2 million facility on the east side of Crisler Arena. The center will have two practice courts, offices and meeting rooms, along with weight rooms, training rooms and locker rooms. It is expected to open in October.
--Michigan coach John Beilein beat Michigan State for the first time in five tries when his Wolverines stunned the Spartans 61-57 on Jan. 27.
--After getting outrebounded 38-13 in a loss to Minnesota, the Wolverines battled Michigan State even 29-29 on the boards on their way to a win over the Spartans.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Nine times in Michigan's first 20 games, sophomore PG Darius Morris had eight or more assists.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This could be a turnaround not only for our season but our program. So we've just got to keep going hard, and that's all we got to do, just play hard." -- Michigan freshman F Jon Horford, to AnnArbor.com, on the Wolverines' win at Michigan State.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

GAME PREVIEW:
--at Penn State, Feb. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolverines face a veteran Penn State team that is led by senior G Talor Battle, and as Ohio State demonstrated in a recent win over the Nittany Lions, the secret to controlling Penn State starts with limiting the impact of Battle. Through Jan. 30, he had posted 41 career games of 20 or more points, so the track record is there. Michigan's Darius Morris will expect to get the primary defensive assignment on Battle, and if Morris is able to keep Battle from igniting any runs or dropping any timely shots that hit home like daggers, the Wolverines have to like their chances against Penn State.

FUTURES MARKET: The Wolverines knew that freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. came from good, solid stock. They have to be encouraged by the speed with which Hardaway has adjusted to the college game and become a regular contributor for Michigan. After leading the team in scoring on the four-game European tour this summer, Hardaway has progressed, and he was the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten among freshmen through Jan. 30. He also had demonstrated his versatility, leading Michigan in rebounding in three straight games recently.

PLAYER NOTES

--Sophomore PG Darius Morris was on the floor for all 40 minutes of the win over Michigan State. Morris played 43 minutes in the recent overtime loss to Kansas.
--Junior F Zack Novak tied a career high with six made 3-pointers in Michigan's win over Michigan State. Novak was 6-for-8 from beyond the arc and had 18 of his 19 points from long distance. Novak has moved past former Michigan star Glen Rice for the eighth spot on Michigan's career 3-pointers made list.
--Freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. grabbed eight rebounds to lead Michigan in that category in its win at Michigan State. He scored a team-high 19 points in the Jan. 30 win over Iowa.


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