The TSX Files: Beyond the Box Score @Illinois

Tim Hardaway Jr. is one major reason the Wolverines, despite being the youngest team in the Big Ten and the 19th youngest in the country in Division I, find themselves in the middle of the Big Ten standings.


The Wolverines were down by 10 at the half, and a furious comeback fell just short as Michigan suffered a 54-52 defeat at Illinois. The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Wolverines (16-11, 6-8), who had won five of their previous six games. Michigan shot only 11 percent from outside the arc (2-of-18). Freshman F Jordan Morgan led the Wolverines with 12 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore PG Darius Morris had 11 points, while freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. added 10 points.


Hardaway learning pressure of namesake the hard way

There is a real burden involved when you carry a name that everyone recognizes. Just ask stock car racer Dale Earnhardt Jr., who could explain how weighty a name can be.

Freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. came to Ann Arbor knowing that no matter where he went, the name would be instantly recognizable to basketball fans. He is the son of the former NBA great of the same name, who was one of the game's best point guards and a player who scored more than 15,000 points in his career and handed out more than 7,000 assists.

The younger Hardaway came to Michigan where he joined the sons of three other former NBA players - Jon Horford, Jordan Dumars, and Josh Bartelstein. Even with the strength of numbers, the spotlight has been brightest on Hardaway. He has been the biggest contributor of the group.

In a recent Big Ten win over Indiana, Hardaway Jr. made 9 of 11 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, and four free throws on his way to a career-high 26 points. Hardaway, who earlier this season had a double-double against Northwestern, drew the praise of Indiana coach Tom Crean.

"He punked our guys," Crean said. "He's good ... he's become a shot-maker. Earlier in the season, he was a shot-taker."

Hardaway Jr. is one major reason the Wolverines, despite being the youngest team in the Big Ten and the 19th youngest in the country in Division I, find themselves in the middle of the Big Ten standings. He also had a lot to do with Michigan traveling to Illinois with wins in five of its last six Big Ten games.


--The Wolverines have recorded 11 double-doubles this season, six from Darius Morris, four from Zack Novak and one from Tim Hardaway Jr.

--Michigan sophomore PG Darius Morris has had the highest increase in his scoring average in the Big Ten this season. Morris has increased his average by 11 points per game, up to 15.4 points per game through Feb. 16. He also leads the Big Ten and is fourth in the nation with 6.81 assists per game entering the weekend.

--Michigan sophomore F Jordan Dumars has had surgery on his injured right knee and will miss the rest of the season. He will apply for a medical redshirt for the season, and should have three years of eligibility remaining.

--Following a redshirt season in 2009-10, freshman F Jordan Morgan has started every game for the Wolverines this season. He leads the Big Ten with his 65.8 percent shooting accuracy from the field.

--The Wolverines need to remind everyone they are the youngest team in the Big Ten, with no seniors, just four juniors, and 11 underclassmen.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Michigan had 11 losses after dropping a nine-point decision at then No. 1 Ohio State, but five of those losses had come against four of the top-ranked teams in the country. Michigan lost to then No. 9 Syracuse, then No. 3 Kansas, then No. 15 Minnesota, and twice to the Buckeyes -- at No. 2 and then at No. 1.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a good win, especially coming up on the postseason. It puts us in the mix." -- Michigan freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. on what his team's win over Indiana did to enhance its chances of making the NCAA tournament

GAME PREVIEW: at Iowa, Feb. 19
KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolverines come off of a heart-breaking loss in a near-upset at Illinois to encounter an Iowa team that has been gaining its footing recently, and one of the more interesting matchups involves Iowa freshman F Melsahn Basabe tangling inside with Michigan's freshman F Jordan Morgan. Basabe had 13 points and 11 rebounds in the Hawkeyes' recent overtime loss to Wisconsin. Morgan has been on a bit of a run himself, so the winner of this individual bout should help his team prevail in the overall battle.

There likely is not a team in the Big Ten more anxious than the Wolverines to see what the coming seasons will hold. Michigan has recently put together wins in five of six conference games, and done so with a lineup that includes three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. As the youngest team in the Big Ten and one of the youngest in the nation, Michigan was expected to take considerable lumps throughout 2010-11, but recent results appear to have the Wolverines demonstrating an ability to play wise beyond their years. Experience will only make this team better, and the Wolverines will enter the coming seasons as one of the richest teams in the Big Ten in that resource.

--In the recent win over Northwestern, Michigan was led by freshman F Jordan Morgan and his career-high 27 points.
--Junior F Zack Novak has recorded four double-doubles this season through games played Feb. 12.
--Michigan freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a career-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field as the Wolverines held off Indiana and won for the fifth time in a recent stretch of six Big Ten games.
--Junior F Zack Novak equaled his career high with six assists in the win over Indiana. He also contributed 10 points and seven rebounds.
--Freshman G Tim Hardaway Jr. had all 13 of his points in the final seven and a half minutes of the game to lead Michigan to a 65-62 road win over Penn State.

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