February 21, 2008

Breaking Down the Box - Michigan

Michigan - 60
Minnesota - 69

Michigan's record aside, this was a very nice win for the Gophers. If you've paid attention to Big Ten basketball you know that Michigan has been a hot team in the league with a 3 game win streak, including a 10 point win over Ohio State.

The Gophers seemed to be sliding a little and content with their likely NIT fate. While I am pleased they sealed this win, the fact is they did everything they could to allow Michigan to steal this one on the road.

  • Allowed 23 offensive rebounds
  • Gave Michigan 23 additional shots
  • -4 in turnovers
  • Shot 52.4% at the free throw line
IF they box out, they win by 16+
IF they make free throws, they win by 12+

IF Lawrence McKenzie doesn't give a 26 point night we lose
IF Jon Williams doesn't have 7 rebounds in the second half, we lose

I don't want to be too hard on the Gophs, in all fairness our half court defense in the second half is what truly won the game for them. Because of our defense and Michigan shot selection we held them to 26.3% shooting in the second half. That is very good.

Two sequences allowed us to retain tempo and then sealed the game...

Tempo Grabbing Moment - Tollackson hurts something and sits. Enter Jon Williams and the Gophers go back to man-to-man. Simply, moving back to man and Williams' ability to rebound gave us momentum and ended the Michigan possessions.

Nail in the Coffin - Hoffarber enters the line up during a time out and drains a three to give us an 11 point lead with 2:37 left. On the ensuing defensive possession the Gophers force a shot clock violation. We take a double digit lead then force a turnover after 0:35 tick off the clock.

Player of the Game - Lawrence McKenzie

Pts - 26
no other stats mattered

I was tempted to give POG to Williams as his second half effort of 7 rebounds and 5 points were more significant I can accurately describe. But I can't overlook McKenzie's best game of the year. The 26 was balanced (13 in each half), several baskets were well timed to get us back into the game and most importantly they were good shots (for the most part). This is the kind of results we have desired and expected of McKenzie all year.

Lawrence should find a way to play Michigan more often, season averages vs...

Michigan - 22.5
Wisconsin - 6.5
Northwestern - 10.5
Illinois - 5

Tempo-Free Zone - If you are sqeemish, I don't recommend looking at these numbers.

Statistically there is no reason we should have won this game. Michigan rebounded nearly 50% of their own misses! Add that to the fact that we turned the ball over on 27.6% of our own possessions and we should thank DeShawn Sims and his 2/11 from behind the arc.

I like simple math truths and tonight here is your mathematical answer to why we won...

eFG% > Def-Reb% + Off TO%

I will take a W any way you want to add it up.

Up Next - Penn State

Another must win. The only thing that worries me is looking past Penn State.

Beating Penn State would get us back to .500 in Big Ten play heading into our final 4 games. Really none of these wins mean much unless you get really hot and does something crazy like win 3 of our last 4; but lets not get carried away.

@Pur - L
OSU - maybe, but likely L
@Ind - L
@Ill - maybe, but likely L

I'll be happy winning 1 of those, ecstatic with 2-2. NIT is our fate unless a miracle happens. NCAA hopes would rely on winning @Pur and @Ind then you have to win one of the other two games and two in the Big Ten Tourney. This team is capable of pulling off an upset, but stringing a few of them together is just too much to expect.

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