The Michigan Wolverines’ basketball team lit it up on both ends of the floor in tonight’s 85-66 win over Northwestern, shooting 50 percent for the game while holding the Wildcats to just 41 percent from the field.
The defensive intensity in particular was evident from an early standpoint, especially from deep; U-M held Northwestern to just five-of-18 from three-point range, including a combined 0-of-4 showing from sharpshooters in sophomore guard Boo Buie and junior forward Miller Kopp.
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The Michigan Wolverines’ next basketball game is Wednesday night against Minnesota. (USA Today Sports Images)
“We were very focused and knew their main plays,” sophomore guard Franz Wagner exclaimed after the win. “We executed what we were told and tried to minimize their three or four main players.
“We had a lot of intensity and energy, and were very focused at the same time. That’s important against a team like this. We have to continue to make strides on defense though and continue to get better.”
“Franz was very active and is becoming a more complete defender,” senior guard Eli Brooks added, praising his teammate. “He used to foul a lot, but he’s now doing a good job of playing solid and making people score over his length.
“We wanted to be the most physical team out there and stick to our principles to make them score over us.”
Northwestern was seldom able to “score over” Wagner tonight, with the 6-9 guard racking up five blocks. Freshman center Hunter Dickinson has been the team’s premier shot blocker this season though, with his 1.6 blocks per game ranking sixth in the Big Ten heading into the day.
Dickinson made his presence felt on the offensive end tonight (yet again), finishing with a team-high 19 points on eight-of-12 shooting. The 7-1 freshman has now scored at least 11 points in all of nine of Michigan’s games, and was averaging 16.6 points coming into the weekend.
So what’s the best way to stop him?
“Even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you,” Wagner laughed. “He’s a great player and whatever you do, he can take advantage of what a defense does. That just speaks to how good of an offensive player he is.”
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“Our mindset has always been to get the ball in the paint because good things will happen,” Brooks explained. “Hunter is an elite passer, so it’s about getting him the ball and taking advantage of his passing abilities.
“Teams doubling him actually helps us because of how good of a passer he is. We just have so many different weapons. I don’t think there’s a drop off when someone gets subbed out, because everyone is confident in what they’re asked to do.
“We’re a selfless team — if someone misses a shot, we tell them to shoot it again. That goes a long way for someone’s confidence.”
The selflessness, team unity, consistency and countless other reasons are why Michigan is currently 9-0 and atop the Big Ten standings. U-M and Baylor are the final two remaining unbeaten Power Conference teams in the nation, with the Bears currently sitting at No. 2 in the AP top 25 and the Maize and Blue at … No. 16?
“Not yet,” senior guard Chaundee Brown insisted when asked if tonight’s blowout of the Wildcats was enough to put Michigan on the “national radar.” “We still have to win some more games.
“They don’t give us a lot of respect and they talk about other teams in our conference, so we’ll just keep our head down and grinding. Beating every team in the Big Ten [is what it will take to get on the radar].
“We’ll stay dialed in and locked in, and we’re not satisfied with 9-0.”
The Wolverines will next welcome Minnesota to Ann Arbor for a Wednesday night showdown at Crisler Center.
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Published: 2021-01-04 04:47:55
Tags: #Michigan #Wolverines #basketball #freshman #Hunter #Dickinson #led #points #tonight