The Wildcats finally appear to be finding the rhythm that had them dancing all the way to the NCAA tournament for the first time a year ago.
The Michigan Wolverines will play the Northwestern Wildcats in one of the NCAA basketball games on Tuesday, start time at 7:00 PM, at Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois.
Northwestern coach Chris Collins said he knows what everyone thinks. "And it's a lot of fun". "But I'm not quite sure I'm seeing that".
Unlike the first meeting where MI settled for 3-pointers and struggled to knock down any open shots early on, the Wolverines got off to a solid start and built a 13-3 lead with 15:26 left in the first half following a Duncan Robinson 3-pointer. He scored 14 in the second half.
Unlike in the first meeting, a 58-47 MI win at Crisler Center last Monday, the Wolverines attacked Northwestern's zone effectively early.
Moe Wagner led the Wolverines (19-7, 8-5) with 20 points and nine rebounds. Lindsey hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds remaining in the first half to pull the Cats within 3 heading into the break. The Wolverines weren't great at the foul line, making 13 of 19.
"We didn't get a lot of stops so we couldn't get running". "We missed a couple shots early and once they adapted - you got to be so good in this". "We missed a lot of free throws, too, and didn't make shots. Yep, that's how it goes".
After using a solid start to build a double-digit cushion and leading the entire first half, MI was out of sorts and couldn't get many open looks against Northwestern's matchup zone.
The Wildcats went ahead 35-33 on a 3-pointer by Vic Law, who was just 1 for 8 from long range and shot 2 of 10 overall.
Dererk Pardon and Lindsey followed with layups to complete the run before Wagner answered with an inside basket. The Wildcats are 4-3 in their last seven games and have held opponents to an average of 62.4 points per game compared to 67.6 prior to the switch.
A Bryant McIntosh three with 8:55 remaining made it 47-41 and had MI on the ropes. That gave the Wildcats a 54-44 lead with 3:43 left. The shot, his first made three since January 23, was part of a 24-point, five-assist performance from McIntosh.
"Defensively we did an excellent job", senior guard Bryant McIntosh said. "We just try to stay locked in. We've got veteran guys that want to go down swinging".
Beilein is 13-6 all-time against the Wildcats, but MI has lost four of its last six games at Northwestern.
"At the beginning of the game, they came out and punched us a little bit and got off to a lead, so we were playing from behind", Lindsey said.
"We were trying to read it", Beilein said of Northwestern's zone. "That's all we know right now". The Wolverines remained ice cold from long range. But they made just 5-of-20 shots in the second half, including 1-of-10 from 3.
But after MI closed to within two, 41-39, following a pair of Jordan Poole free throws at the 13:04 mark, the offense stalled and everything started to unravel.
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