Morgan, Hardaway Lead Michigan To Victory

The University of Michigan Men's Basketball team improved to 15-10 on the season and 5-7 in Big 10 play with a 75-66 win over Northwestern on Wednesday in Ann Arbor. Jordan Morgan scored a career high 27 points and Tim Hardaway, Jr. posted his first career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds as Michigan thwarted a fierce, late Northwestern rally to secure the win.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Jordan Morgan relentlessly attacked the lane and the basket on his way to a game and career high 27 points and a pair of rebounds as the University of Michigan Men's Basketball team was victorious at home against the Northwestern Wildcats, 75-66. The win improves Michigan's record to 15-10 (5-7 in Big Ten play) and snaps a three-game losing streak to Northwestern dating back to February 15, 2009. Tim Hardaway Jr. recorded 17 points and collected 10 rebounds to post a double-double (the first of his young career), and Darius Morris added 11 points and 7 assists while logging 39 minutes of floor time as Michigan built a couple of 15-point leads and then thwarted a furious late rally to secure the win.

After a see-saw 13 minutes of action in the first half that saw both teams struggle from the field, Michigan began to seize control of the game on the offensive end using a pick and roll offense that Northwestern consistently struggled to defend. The Wolverines pushed the ball up the floor at every opportunity forcing the Wildcats' transition defense to scramble, which gave the two-man game of Morris and Morgan opportunities to gain matchup advantages against smaller defenders as they attacked the lane. When Northwestern's defense tried to collapse down or clog the lane, shooters like Evan Smotrycz and Hardaway were given good looks from distance and made them pay.

Northwestern's cold-shooting offense was unable to keep up with the Wolverine's first-half scoring surge and things got tougher for the Wildcats as Michigan's defense increased its intensity, cutting off lanes to the basket and challenging nearly every shot. Northwestern senior guard Michael Thompson was held scoreless in the first half as his own cold shooting and Michigan's defensive attention frustrated the dynamic scorer. When he went to the bench after he collected his second foul with just under 6 minutes to go in the first half, Northwestern's offense become visibly much less diverse and difficult to defend. Michigan pounced on the short-handed Wildcats, outscoring Northwestern 23-7 and stretched their lead out to 15 points before halftime.

Senior scorers typically respond to adversity and Thompson showed up on the score sheet in a hurry, taking the opening possession of the second half, he headed straight to the basket and put in a quick 2 point jumper. He would continue to inject life into Northwestern's game with a steal, followed by a layup and then a deep 3-point shot after a Hardaway miss for a 7-0 run right out of the gate that forced Michigan coach John Beilein to call a timeout to regroup.

Michigan responded with their own 6-0 run with Hardaway hitting a good look from three, a great defensive effort on a drive by Thompson resulting in a steal by Morgan and Douglass burying an open three from the corner, forcing Northwestern coach Bill Carmody to call his own timeout to break the tide that had so quickly swung back against his squad.

From there, Michigan seemed back in complete control of the game with a consistent double-digit lead and things quieted down a bit inside Crisler Arena; that is until Hardaway woke everyone up with a couple of high flying dunks in the lane. The first came as he dribbled around the top of the pick and roll and took off down the right side of the lane to the rim, and the second came on an in-bound play when Northwestern inexplicably left the athletic freshman loose 6 feet from the basket and paid the price for doing so.

Trading a few baskets and possibly getting a little complacent, Michigan started to get a little sloppy with ball control when Northwestern began to extend their defense to full-court pressure and a couple of key turnovers gave Northwestern the window they were looking for to climb back into the game. Suddenly finding their shooting range, Northwestern sank 4 straight shots - three from behind the 3-point line - to get Michigan's lead into single digits with 4:29 to play.

Coming out of a timeout, Darius Morris turned the ball over and Stu Douglass was immediately called for a foul, frustrating coach Beilein who called another timeout to try to settle things down. But Northwestern was on a roll and continued to surge from behind the arc, sandwiching two more three pointers by Drew Crawford and JerShonn Cobb around a drawn charge on Morris for yet another untimely turnover. On the ensuing possession, Douglass was caught in the air, in the backcourt, while trying to pass the ball out of pressure. The pass was blocked by the Wildcats, collected and layed in by Cobb to bring Northwestern within a single point of tying the contest. In what seemed like the blink of an eye Michigan had seen its 15-point lead all but disappear.

The young Michigan team, seeing the game slipping out of their grasp, responded to this sudden and dramatic challenge by going back to what got them their now erased 15-point lead to begin with - attacking the lane. Darius Morris drove the lane and drew a blocking foul to get to the free throw stripe. He calmly sank both free throws to give Michigan a three point lead. Jordan Morgan then blocked a Northwestern layup attempt on the other end. Morgan then scored on a layup on a nice pass from Hardaway to extend the lead to five. A desperation three point attempt missed by Northwestern led to a break-out where Morris found a streaking Morgan for an alley-oop dunk that sent the Crisler crowd into celebration mode and set the lead at seven with just over a minute to play. Northwestern could do nothing more and a couple of Michigan free throws iced the contest.

The win marks Michigan's fourth win in five games and they will look to continue their recent success when Indiana (12-13, 3-9) visits Crisler Arena on February 12th for a 4:00 PM ET tip. Michigan will be looking to get to 16-10 (6-7 in Big Ten play) and to avenge an earlier season loss to the Hoosiers. Indiana beat the Wolverines 80-61 on January 15, in Bloomington.

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