Michigan basketball team takes over in 2nd half, rolls to 62-46 win at Nebraska
Updated 11:07 p.m.
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Michigan's first half Wednesday night was borderline miserable.
The second half, though, went down as borderline perfect.
The 22nd-ranked Michigan basketball team shot a blistering 76.2 percent from the floor after halftime, earning its first-ever Big Ten win against host Nebraska with a 62-46 victory at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
"The key was confidence, all around," Michigan senior co-captain Stu Douglass said. "You don't have to make flashy plays, just play the game the right way.
"The simple way, the way we've been talking about every day."
It was easily Michigan's best shooting half of the season and effectively wiped away a 32 percent performance before the break.
MICHIGAN 62, NEBRASKA 46
How did Michigan respond to a trainwreck of a first half? With its most efficient 20 minutes of the season. Go figure. The Wolverines made 16-of-21 shots after halftime. During the first half, Michigan was 8-for-25 from the floor. The win was Michigan's largest Big Ten road victory under John Beilein and marked the school's first ever victory over the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Neb.
1,000 FOR NOVAK
With a 3-pointer in the first half, senior co-captain Zack Novak became the 45th Michigan player to score 1,000 career points. He now has 1,008 points in his four-year tenure and is one of only 28 players with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.
FINDING A (HARDA)WAY
Tim Hardaway Jr. didn't exactly answer his 1-for-10 shooting night at Michigan State with an epic performance at Nebraska. The sophomore began the game 0-for-7 from the floor in the first half, 0-for-5 from 3-point range. He did manage to find other ways to help in the second half, though. Hardaway went 3-for-4 from the floor after the break, drew a charge and handed out three assists as Michigan put up 40 second-half points.
"The key was confidence, all around. You don't have to make flashy plays, just play the game the right way. The simple way, the way we've been talking about every day."
Notebook: Zack Novak slips by 1,000-point barrier and more notes
Boxscore | Top 25 scores | Big Ten scores
The 16-point victory was also the largest Big Ten road win Michigan has earned under Michigan coach John Beilein.
"We gave them permission to make shots, it's okay," Beilein joked afterward. "It's okay for three or four or five guys to make shots, and we can do that."
The win was Michigan's second road victory of the season, and first ever in Lincoln. The Wolverines dropped their only two previous meetings at Nebraska, by one point in 1964 and by 13 points in 1956.
Michigan still hasn't suffered consecutive losses this season, and moves to 18-7 overall, 8-4 in Big Ten play.
Senior co-captain Zack Novak, who scored his 1,000th-career point in the first half, finished with a team-high 14 points for Michigan, while Douglass finished with 13 points.
Trey Burke added 12 points and seven assists, while Matt Vogrich finished with nine points on three second-half 3-pointers.
The Cornhuskers, who shot 18-for-46 from the floor as a team, were paced by Bo Spencer's 13 points.
Nebraska (11-12, 3-9) has lost four of its last five.
"It's very disappointing, frustrating, disappointing, whatever you want to call it," Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. "But it's life. ... Come out to watch us practice if you want to ask me questions about frustration or quit.
"Come watch us practice, see how many times they're on the floor and see how much enthusiasm they've got. They're giving me everything they've got and I'm proud of them."
The first half was rough, to say the least.
Nebraska began the game 1-for-12 from the floor and didn't finish the half much better, starting out 5-for-23 shooting.
Michigan didn't exactly put on a show itself.
Tim Hardaway Jr. went 0-for-7 in the first half, and the Wolverines put up an 8-for-23 performance early before settling for a 22-15 lead at halftime.
Nebraska continued its cold shooting to begin the second. Michigan, however, opted for a change.
"We (started) playing inside-out (in the second half), we've got to do more of that," Novak said. "We came in as a team (at halftime) and just said 'we're settling a little too much.'
"So we said 'let's just go to the basket more a little bit.'"
The message was well-received.
The Wolverines got a pair of easy layups from Jordan Morgan, a driving score from Hardaway and a 3-pointer in the corner from Burke to cap off a 13-2 surge, opening up a 35-19 edge with 14 minutes to play.
The lead grew to 18 two minutes later when Hardaway found Novak inside for a layup, giving Michigan a 15-2 run and a 7-for-9 shooting start to open the second.
The lead grew as high as 26 points as the Wolverines hit 10 of their first 11 two-point shots after halftime. They finished the second half 16-for-21 from the floor, and 24-for-46 on the day.
Michigan's shooting performance came on the heels of two sub-40-percent shooting efforts on the road, the first a 15-point loss at Ohio State, the second a 10-point loss at Michigan State.
"Michigan State and Ohio State are tremendous defensive teams, you only see about 10 or 20 teams like that in the country," Beilein said. "We moved the ball and we learned a lot from (those games) and we didn't force.
"We took good shots (in the second half)."
Hardaway finished with six points after his poor start, but did go 3-for-4 from the floor with three assists after halftime. Morgan added eight points and six rebounds in 31 minutes.
Though Michigan still sits without a losing streak 25 games into the season, the Wolverines haven't won two in a row since Jan. 11.
The team will get a chance to change that at home Sunday against Illinois (1 p.m., CBS).
"We know we're taking steps forward, we've just got to put those pieces together and not take steps back," Douglass said. "We don't want to keep winning and losing, then winning and losing."
Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.
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Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.
Wait... Nebraska has a basketball team? Huh. Learn something new every day.
Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.
Good game. They did what was expected. Its always tough on the road but it was a commanding 2nd half. Its about time for our weekly article from Nick rating us higher than a couple of teams that have higher national rankings, isn't it? For sure this win will put us over Wisky and Indy in his ranking. :)
Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.
Hardaway will snap out of it. He showed signs of breaking the funk and "brushing the haters off" in the second half. He was solid in the second half. He was passing the ball and doing all of the little things that help a team win - like stepping over and drawing the charge. His shooting will come around. Personally I like to start my shooters with a set play for an easy shot going to the hole. If they attack there is a good chance they can get fouled and get to the line. This could help Hardaway (or any shooter) get off to a positive start versus Illinois. Since I brought up foul shooting, Michigan only shot 4 free throws on the road last night. At Ohio State, Michigan didn't shoot a free throw until the 2:33 mark of the second half! Michigan needs to get to the foul line, especially on the road. If you want to win on the road, you need some easy points. I am actually surprised at the fact Burke doesn't shoot more free throws. He goes to the hole strong, especially going to the left, he just doesn't get many free throws. I would love to see him go right at some of the supposed "shot blockers" in the B1G TEN. It would be nice if Hardaway went strong to the hole, too, and got to the line a few more times. Every win is a great win, especially in the conference and on the road. Go Blue! Juanabe U-M '85
Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.
Stu Douglas is one of the unsung heros of this team. He is, in my opinion, their best defender and gets very little recognition for it. Zack gets all the attention - well deserved... but there is another senior on this team that will be sorely missed next season. GO BLUE!
Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 5:17 a.m.
I don't get it - if THJ's shot is struggling, why would he take MORE shots that are further from the basket? It is insane for him to shoot five 3-pointers in the first half. His problem is clearly his confidence and you build confidence by attempting (relatively) easier shots. He needs to drive to the basket and get shots from 12-18 feet. That might take an adjustment to the offensive sets, but the proverbial banging his head against the wall by shooting a high-volume of 3-pt shots at a ~25% rate every game is a recipe for disaster against teams that are not as offensively putrid as Nebraska, i.e., pretty much any other team away from Crisler.
Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.
Well said. He is capable of getting near the rim almost anytime he wants. Yet so frequently settles for 30', hand-in-face, bombers from 3-pt range. Beilein needs to shut that down.
Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 4 a.m.
The first half was uglier than I am. It's a shame someone had to win this game.