Rushed Reactions: #2 Michigan 79, #7 Texas 65Posted by Walker Carey on March 22nd, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- Michigan’s three-point shooting carried it to victory. The Wolverines have been a very good three-point shooting team all season, and that carried over to Saturday afternoon. John Beilein’s squad used 14 three-pointers – on 28 attempts from behind the arc – to pace itself to a comfortable victory over Texas. Starters Derrick Walton Jr., Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, and Glenn Robinson III combined to hit 11 from behind the arc and this forced the Longhorns to make defensive adjustments throughout the game. Hot three-point shooting has been known to carry teams deep into the NCAA Tournament. Michigan has shown repeatedly that its long-range shooting is about as good as it gets this season, so you should not be surprised if the Wolverines keep advancing as long as they are hitting shots from deep.
- Offensive rebounding and free throw shooting kept Texas in the game. The Longhorns did not have their best game on either side of the court Saturday afternoon. They shot just 37.1 percent from the field and starting guards Isaiah Taylor, Demarcus Holland, and Javan Felix finished a combined 11-of-34. Rick Barnes’ group also had a long night defensively, as they allowed Michigan way too many open looks from the perimeter, resulting in the Wolverines’ hot shooting performance. Two areas where Texas excelled were on the offensive glass and at the free throw line. The Longhorns collected an astounding 21 offensive boards and used those to record 19 second-chance points. They also took advantage of their 16 attempts from the charity stripe by knocking back all but one of them. Texas probably should have been put away shortly after the commencement of the second half, but due to its performance on the offensive glass and at the free throw line, it was able to keep the pressure on Michigan well into the final minutes.
- Jordan Morgan has been the interior presence Michigan needs. When Mitch McGary went down with a season-ending back injury in late December, many question arose regarding if Michigan’s inside play would be good enough for the team to have a successful season. Those questions were certainly answered in the Big Ten, as the team’s inside play was not an issue en route to a 15-3 conference record and an outright league title. Entering the NCAA Tournament, however, it still seemed as if there were doubts if the team’s inside play would be enough for it to advance far into the bracket. Senior forward Jordan Morgan’s play in the first two games of this Tournament has shown that those doubts were unwarranted. The big man has tallied 25 points and 20 rebounds over the first two games and has provided the team with a much-needed interior defensive presence. Morgan has already played a lot of minutes in his Michigan career and if he can continue to produce in the post, he is going to likely play quite a few more before his Wolverines career is over.
Player of the Game. Jordan Morgan, Michigan. The senior big man more than held his own against a Texas front line of Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley that was expected to give the Wolverines headaches all afternoon. Holmes and Ridley combined for just 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting and routinely looked flustered by the swarming Michigan defense. Morgan also had a strong game offensively, as he poured in 15 points in the winning effort. It should also be noted that the senior, just a 57.7 percent free throw shooter, drained seven of his eight attempts from the charity stripe today.
- “We knew they had a lot of shooters. When I saw the scouting report I thought it was typo because it was all 40 percent three-point shooters. They definitely showed tonight they are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country.” – Texas forward Connor Lammert, commenting on Michigan’s long-range shooting prowess.
- “There is some unfinished business for us.” – Michigan guard Caris LeVert, acknowledging that the Wolverines have greater goals than just a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Sights and Sounds. Michigan had a stronger and more active fan contingent than Texas today, but that should have been expected considering Ann Arbor is much closer to Milwaukee than Austin. The Texas fans that did make it to the Bradley Center, however, made their presence known throughout much of the game. Much like many Big Ten fan bases, the Longhorn fans went after Nik Stauskas with pretty strong vigor all afternoon. Stauskas is one of the most confident – borderline cocky – players in the country, and combine that with him being so good and you can see why opposing fans believe it is necessary to get on him.
Wildcard. With Saturday’s victory, Michigan coach John Beilein now has 700 career wins. Beilein joins Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, North Carolina coach Roy Williams, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan as the only active D-I coaches to have reached the milestone.
What’s Next. Michigan advances to the Sweet Sixteen where it will play the winner of Tennessee and Mercer on Friday evening in Indianapolis.