Lincoln -Zack Novak's 14 points led three Wolverines in double figures, as No. 22 Michigan topped Nebraska, 62-46 at the Devaney Center Wednesday night.
Novak, who hit five of his seven shots from the floor, scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, as the Wolverines (18-7, 8-4 Big Ten) built a 22-15 halftime lead and took control with a 10-0 run early in the second half.
Nebraska, which shot 22 percent in the first half, was within 22-17 after a Brandon Ubel basket with 19:38 remaining, but Jordan Morgan keyed a 10-0 run over the next 4:33 for the visitors, scoring six of his eight points in a 10-0 surge as Michigan built a 32-17 lead with 15:05 left and cruised to a 16-point win.
Stu Douglass and Trey Burke joined Novak in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively, as Michigan shot 52.2 percent on the night, including 11-of-24 from 3-point range.
Bo Spencer paced Nebraska (11-12, 3-9 Big Ten) with 13 points, as Nebraska shot 39 percent, including 22 percent in the first half. Brandon Ubel grabbed nine rebounds for Nebraska, which out-rebounded Michigan, 29-22, but dropped its third straight game.
Michigan started hot from 3-point range, as consecutive 3-pointers from Novak and a Douglass 3-pointer gave the Wolverines an early 9-2 lead. Michigan eventually built an 11-4 lead as Nebraska missed 11 of its first 12 shots from the floor before Brandon Richardson led the Huskers back. The senior guard scored seven straight points for the Huskers, as his 3-point play pulled Nebraska within 13-11. Nebraska eventually trimmed the lead to 16-15 after a Caleb Walker basket, but a Douglass 3-pointer started a 6-0 run for the Wolverines to close the half leading 22-15.
Nebraska stayed in the game because of its effort on the defensive end, holding Michigan to 32 percent in the first half.
The Huskers return to action Saturday afternoon, as Nebraska travels to Penn State. Tipoff is set for Noon (central) and the game will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and also televised on ESPNU.
*-Tonight is Michigan's first-ever victory over the Huskers in Lincoln. The Wolverines were 0-2 against the Huskers in Lincoln prior to tonight's game and had not played in Lincoln since the 1964-65 season.
*-Nebraska falls to 1-5 against ranked teams this season following tonight's loss to No. 22 Michigan
*-Nebraska was held to 46 points on Wednesday, the fifth time the Huskers have been held to under 50 points this season.
*-Nebraska out-rebounded Michigan 29-22, the fourth time NU has out-rebounded an opponent in conference play.
*-Brandon Ubel grabbed nine rebounds, matching his Big Ten high for the season. He also had nine against Wisconsin and at Northwestern. Ubel had four offensive rebounds, the ninth time this season he has had four offensive rebounds.
*-Nebraska's 15 points were a first-half low for the season (20 vs. Ohio State on Jan. 21), while the 22 points allowed tied NU's low in Big Ten play (also at Illinois and vs. Penn State).
*-Toney McCray led Nebraska with a career-high five assists. His previous season and career best was three, set five previous times, most recently against Northwestern on Feb. 2.
*-The two teams combined to shot 11-of-15 from 3-point range in the second half after making 5-of-27 in the opening 20 minutes.
*-Mike Fox played a career-high 17 minutes tonight, the second straight game he has established a personal best in minutes.
*-Michigan's seven turnovers matched a season low for a Husker opponent (also vs. Wisconsin on 12/27).
*-Nebraska falls to 8-7 at home, as the seven home losses are the most in a single season since the Devaney Center opened in 1976-77.
Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler
First of all, I was disappointed we lost the basketball game, but I'm so proud of our guys. I thought they played as hard as you could play. To not make shots; any of you who have played basketball understand how difficult it could be, maybe to quit competing on the defensive end. I thought our guys competed for forty minutes on that end. We just didn't shoot the basketball.
I have said before today, the last two games, where you don't have a low post presence and we haven't had enough time yet to switch some things up. We only had two days of preparation, and didn't have time to take advantage of a smaller line up that were going to have to play for the rest of the year probably. I just can't say enough though about our guys playing for forty minutes, and I'm proud of them. It is not their fault, we just need some time to get some things offensively, now that were facing what we are facing. Today we just struggled offensively, and you add the fact that we didn't get to the free throw line, it's a difficult game. That's where we are at.
On if Ubel playing for 31 minutes counts as a low post presence
Yes, it does, but you have to have different options to go down there. Toney (McCray) and Brandon together aren't so much guys to score. You have to get it down there to get it back out, and more importantly teams are going to switch like they all switch. We have to do a much better job of throwing the basketball, going back to the backside, and going down to the low post.
We haven't faced that kind of a switch in defense, we always have guards who switch, but basically in the second half we had guards who switched one through five. There is just no advantage to us getting in the lane, and penetrating. The first half when we scored some points was when we got what we call Husker, and we probably caught them off guard a little bit, and got some dribble penetration. It doesn't matter how you get it in there, it has got to get to the low post or in the lane.
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
"I think the game is a lot about our defense today. Stu Douglass and Zack Novak really buy into playing defense. That's not always normal for guys who are seen to be primary shooters first. Those are usually the guys you have to hide in your defense. You don't have to hide those two guys. They wanted to play their (Nebraska's) two best players. They did a great job on them. That sort of sets the tone of our entire team."
On Michigan shooting the ball well in the second half
"I think we did this in the Indiana game before too. We gave them permission to make shots. It's ok for three or four or five guys to make shoots. We can do it. We see it in practice. Doing it on the road is certainly a different environment. I'm really happy for Matt Vogrich. You all know we need our bench to score more points, give us more defense and give us more rebounds."
On going to the basket more in the second half
"Yeah, we started out with the three threes to start the game and got a little trigger happy. Don't discredit their defense. They didn't give us a lot of opportunities in there. We did try and spread the court out a little bit and get into the lane first. I think Tim (Hardaway Jr.) set the tone with a layup to start the second half. I think he only took one three pointer in the second half. We have to be diverse in our game and see what people give us and be more attacking as far as getting the ball inside."