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Michigan basketball is back. Well, it appeared to be back in full force on Tuesday after the Wolverines destroyed Nebraska, 102-67.
The maize and blue have now won back-to-back games in big ways. Michigan beat a typically stout San Diego State team on Saturday, and it now has beaten the Cornhuskers. While Nebraska may not be an elite Big Ten team by any means, it still shows good signs for this young Michigan team that looked to be in some disarray just a week ago when North Carolina blew the Wolverines out the door.
Michigan got off to a quick start on Tuesday night against Nebraska and just never looked back. Everything went the Wolverines way against the Huskers — Michigan cold hit inside the paint and outside from 3. The maize and blue played great on the defensive end of things as well en route to their first Big Ten win of the young campaign.
Here are five takeaways after Michigan thumped Nebraska on Tuesday.
Brandon Johns Jr. really stepped up
Michigan’s Brandon Johns Jr. (23) drives against Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)
With Moussa Diabate missing this game due to an illness, Brandon Johns Jr. was slotted back into the starting lineup for Juwan Howard’s squad.
He sure did not disappoint, and he really looked like his old self on Tuesday.
Johns Jr. wasn’t only active on the offensive end, but he played solid defense — which is what Diabate really brings to the table. The big man had five rebounds to go along with a steal.
But where he really shined was his offensive game. John Jr. had 20 points in the game and even went six-for-seven from the charity stripe.
The Wolverines really needed Johns Jr. to step up, he has been in a slump as of late, so hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come.
3's poured in Lincoln for Michigan
Dec 7, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Caleb Houstan (22) scores on Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Lat Mayen (11) in the first half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
The 3-point shot has been an issue for the Wolverines all year — until Tuesday.
Michigan hit its season-high against the Huskers by sinking 15-of-32 from the arc. The Wolverines shot 46% from deep, and this was another huge development from this team
The Wolverines shot the 3 well against SDSU on Saturday, and now with back-to-back solid performances from 3, things are starting to look up,
Caleb Houstan led the team with four made 3’s and Terrance Williams was right behind him with three made.
Perimeter defense was fantastic
Dec 7, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Keisei Tominaga (30) scores a three point basket Michigan Wolverines guard Eli Brooks (55) in the first half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
While the 3 fell for Michigan, Nebraska could not say the same.
The Huskers shot just 14% from deep and hit on five 3’s out of the 35 shot attempts from long range.
The Wolverines did a great job closing out from deep, and the young guys seemed to really be focused this game. Nebraska tried to pass the ball around and find quality shots, but the defense was as good as it’s been all year.
Even when coach Howard emptied his bench, they even stepped in and played great defense. It was a good sight to see for Michigan fans.
Hunter Dickinson was elite inside
Dec 7, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Michigan Wolverines center Hunter Dickinson (1) signals after scoring against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
The first ten minutes of the game was the Hunter Dickinson show.
No matter what Nebraska did to contain Dickinson, he found ways to make the Cornhuskers pay. The reason he was able to do so well on Tuesday in the paint was that the Huskers had to give some help with perimeter defense and they couldn’t focus on double-teaming the center.
Dickinson’s post-game was in full force early by hitting a couple of hook shots and he just flat out dominated the paint against an undersized defense. Dickinson even hit another 3 on Tuesday after hitting two of those against SDSU on Saturday — the kid is becoming a shooter.
Dickinson ended with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Terrance Williams II shot out of cannon
Michigan’s Terrance Williams II (5) looks to make a move against Nebraska’s Alonzo Verge Jr. (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)
Where did this come from?
Williams II came off the bench on Tuesday, as the sixth man, and he was phenomenal for the Wolverines. He was nine-for-12 from the field and three-for-three from deep for 22 points, which lead the team. Williams II rounded out the night with five rebounds and three assists.
The Wolverines have been searching for players to step up next to Eli Brooks and Hunter Dickinson.
With the emergence of Johns Jr. and Williams II against Nebraska, the Wolverines could be looking at some key contributors down the line. Once Diabate gets healthy and back into the lineup, this team may be the team we all expected it to be at the start of the year.