No. 22 Michigan defeats Cornhuskers 62-46By ERIC OLSON, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012
“Before the game I was thinking how badly we wanted to win by 20-plus,” guard Stu Douglass said after the Wolverines’ 62-46 win on Wednesday night. “We didn’t have that, but we were up by that. It was good for us to kind of throw out the Michigan State game, to throw the bad emotions away from it and move forward.”
It took a while for the Wolverines to get going. Their struggles with shooting on the road continued in the first half, but they still led because Nebraska’s offense was even worse.
A 15-4 Michigan burst started a second half in which the Wolverines made 16 of their first 19 shots and built their lead to as many as 26 points.
“We gave them permission to make shots,” Michigan coach John Beilein said, smiling.
Zack Novak scored 14 points to go over 1,000 for his career and Michigan (18-7, 8-4) won for only the second time in six Big Ten road games. The Cornhuskers (11-12, 3-9) lost their third straight.
Playing on the road for the fifth time in six games—and three days after its 64-54 loss at Michigan State—the Wolverines had no trouble against a downtrodden team that’s one game out of last place in its first season in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines, who came in shooting 43 percent in Big Ten road games, finished at 52 percent after making 32 percent in the first half. Despite the poor shooting, Michigan led 22-15—the Huskers’ season low for points in a half.
Novak said he and his teammates got together at halftime and agreed to look for great rather than good shots, to play more of an inside-out game and limit 3-pointers.
After going 5 for their first 17 on 3s, the Wolverines made 6 of 7 the rest of the way and shot 76.2 percent from the floor in the second half.
“We started with three 3s to start the game and got a little trigger-happy,” Beilein said. “We tried to spread the floor (the second half) and get in the lane. We have to be very diverse in our game and be more attacking as far as getting the ball inside.”
Nebraska never did get going on the offensive end, shooting 21.7 percent in the first half and 39.1 percent for the game.
“We pushed out the lead and kept our foot on the pedal and didn’t really let up,” said Douglass, who had 13 points.
The teams hadn’t met since 1992, and it was Michigan’s first visit to Lincoln since the Huskers beat the then-No. 1 Wolverines in December 1964.
Nebraska wasn’t going to pull an upset this night. The Huskers were without center Jorge Brian Diaz for the second straight game. He has chronic soreness in his feet, and coach Doc Sadler said he probably is done for the season.
Sadler said his players did the best they could with an offense that had no low-post presence.
“We haven’t had enough time yet to switch some things up,” Sadler said. “We only had two days of preparation, and didn’t have time to take advantage of a smaller lineup that we’re going to have to play for the rest of the year probably. I just can’t say enough though about our guys playing for 40 minutes, and I’m proud of them.”
The Huskers didn’t break the 20-point barrier until 12 minutes remained and didn’t go over 40 points until the final minute.
They missed 11 3-pointers in a row before Bo Spencer, who had 13 points, made the Huskers’ first one with 12:22 left in the game.
Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. saw a continuation of his shooting slump. He missed his first seven attempts, including one from point-blank range and a layup through traffic. He broke through early in the second half with a finger roll that put the Wolverines up 30-17.
Hardaway, who had a season-low four points in Sunday’s 64-54 loss at Michigan State, was 3 of 11 for six points and is 13 for his last 47 (27.6 percent) in four games.
Hardaway did have three rebounds and three assists and took a charge.
“Just after that Michigan State game I felt bad about myself,” he said. “I didn’t `want to hurt my team in any way. You want to give it all you’ve got the rest of the season. So I’m making a concerted effort to do the little things.”
Toney McCray fired up an air ball from the corner to start Nebraska’s stretch of 1-for-13 shooting to start the game. The Huskers’ second field goal didn’t come until 9:12 before half.
The Huskers, thanks to Michigan’s shooting woes, had a chance to take the lead after pulling to 16-15. But Brandon Ubel missed an easy dunk when Spencer gave him a perfect alley-oop pass.
It was that kind of night for a Nebraska team that, with an 8-7 home record, has its most losses in Lincoln since the 1962-63 team dropped nine at home.