U-M Changing Defensive Approach on Newbill

Michigan and John Beilein will encounter a familiar face tonight at Penn State in the form of the Big Ten's leading scorer D.J. Newbill. Newbill continues to add different nuances to his game and the Wolverines will be ready to defend it.

Michigan’s scoring droughts have been as consistent as ever nearly halfway through the 2014-15 season.

Fortunately for the Wolverines (8-6,1-1), Tuesday’s opponent has experienced the same.

Penn State (12-3,0-2) started Big Ten play with two straight losses, one of which came in Madison against very tough No. 4 Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions then followed that loss up with second consecutive road defeat at the hands of Rutgers.

In the loss to the Scarlet Knights, Penn State mustered just 46-points for the game, shooting 28-percent from the field and 18-percent (5-for-27) on three-point attempts.

“I think they were much like us in that Purdue game,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Just watching them, and Pat (Chambers) is a good friend of mine, I felt bad cause they had a lot of shots that I think they’ve been making all year long that they did not make.

“Credit the Rutgers defense to that but when you get into the Big Ten this is the way it’s going to be everyday and the good teams will grow from it somehow.

“But it wasn’t like his offense didn’t execute, they missed some open shots and that’s what we all go through those things and it’s hard cause it’s going to turn around on the defensive end because you get frustrated and it’ll show up in your defense.”

The good news for Penn State, and possibly bad news for Michigan tonight, is senior guard D.J. Newbill is off to a tremendous start this season.

Newbill is averaging 21.4 points per game, good for No. 8 in the entire nation, all the while shooting nearly 47-percent from the field.

Newbill is also averaging 4.6 rebounds a contest, as well as three assists, playing 37 minutes per game.

But the biggest uptick according to Beilein is the improved accuracy from downtown, hitting 25-of-65 attempts beyond the arc. For Newbill and his opponents, it certainly changes the plan off attack.

“Another area of his game grows every year,” Beilein said. “I remember the first year he did hit one three against us when we went under a screen in that great comeback that they had at Penn State and his numbers shooting from the outside were so low, you could go under screens. And he also was turning the ball over a lot at that time.

“Now, you can’t go under a screen on him now, he shoots it really well and it just shows what first of all a year of sitting out can do for him and then his development over the three years since then. He’s become arguably one of the best players in the league.”

Newbill leads the Big Ten in scoring and Michigan will need to slow him down to have a shot tonight in State College.

Michigan/Penn State tips off at 7 p.m./est on Big Ten Network.

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