Led by strong 3-point shooting, balanced scoring, and lockdown defense in the second half, Northwestern pulled away and cruised to an easy win over Michigan, sweeping the season series and snapping a 2 game losing streak.
Drew Crawford continued to be a Wolverine killer, leading all scorers with 17 points, highlighted by a circus reverse lay-up late in the second half. John Shurna filled up the box score with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, and Michael Thompson and Luka Mirkovic had 12 points apiece. Jeremy Nash had just 5 points, but still contributed by grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out 5 assists. For most of the night the offense operated smoothly, as the 'Cats shot 54% from the field, 50% on 3 pointers, and had 21 assists on their 25 field goals. Perhaps the best assist came when Ivan Peljusic hit Mike Capocci for an alley-oop dunk in garbage time.
In the first half, Northwestern had trouble getting stops, as Michigan had no problems with the 1-3-1 and got a lot of open looks, especially from 3-point range. But in the second half, Bill Carmody abandonded the 1-3-1 (finally) and went with exclusively match-up zone, and Michigan had no answers for it, scoring just 7 points in the first 14 minutes of the half. Manny Harris led the Wolverines with 11 points, but was just 4-14 from the field and turned the ball over 4 times. DeShawn Sims, who entered the night as the Big Ten's leading scorer, was held to a season low 4 points, and for some reason only played 22 minutes despite not being in foul trouble. I have to think he was either injured or was being disciplined, as he sat out the last 10 minutes of the game. Michigan shot just 32% for the game and their usual 29% on threes.
While Northwestern certainly deserves credit for their defensive effort in the second half, I do have to say that Michigan laid down like dogs. Seriously, their performance after halftime was downright embarrassing. I expected Michigan to at least play hard and give the 'Cats a game, and I was 100% wrong. Everyone on the Wolverine roster should be ashamed of how bad they were in the second half, I honestly don't think I have ever seen a team quit like that, frankly it was pathetic.
It's been a long time since Northwestern had an easy win like tonight, in fact it was in 2009 against Central Connecticut State. Even though Michigan gave up in the second half, the 'Cats helped to break their spirit by clamping down defensively, and it was nice to cruise to victory in a BIg Ten play, something that doesn't happen often. Now they have plenty of time to rest up for Indiana on Sunday, and hopefully get on a winning streak.