Michigan fizzles out after taking early lead in 76-62 loss to Northwestern

On3 imageby:Clayton Sayfie02/22/24

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Michigan Wolverines basketball dropped to 8-19 overall and 3-13 in the Big Ten with a 76-62 loss to Northwestern Thursday night in Evanston.

The Wolverines led by 11 points in the first half but trailed by double digits for the final six-plus minutes in another blowout loss.

The Maize and Blue were short-handed, without sophomore point guard Dug McDaniel (suspension due to academics), graduate forward Olivier Nkamhoua (out for season with wrist injury) and redshirt sophomore forward Will Tschetter (illness). Graduate forward Tray Jackson, a Seton Hall transfer in his first season at Michigan, made his first career start as a Wolverine.

Here’s a recap of how the game unfolded.

First half

Northwestern point guard Boo Buie scored off a give-and-go and feed from center Matthew Nicholson to put the Wildcats up 2-0. Michigan answered with a strong start and 9-0 run, though, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers, one from senior forward Terrance Williams II and the other from Jackson. Northwestern started off 1-of-7 shooting from the field with a pair of turnovers, until forward Luke Hunger made it 9-4 with a two-pointer at the 15:51 mark.

Michigan continued to string together some early stops and scores. A late-shot-clock triple by Williams put the Maize and Blue up 11 points (16-5) with 13:23 remaining in the first half. Northwestern made just 2 of its first 13 field goal attempts, but guard Ryan Langborg back cut Michigan sophomore guard Youssef Khayat, made the layup, got fouled and knocked down the free throw to complete a three-point play. The Wolverines held a 16-8 advantage into the under-12 media timeout.

Northwestern began to heat up from long range, with guard Brooks Barnhizer nailing a three on a second-chance opportunity and Buie hitting an even deeper jumper over Khayat to become Northwestern’s all-time leading scorer with 2,039 points and cut into the Michigan lead (18-14). A couple minutes later, Barnhizer made it 23-17 with another triple. Michigan junior guard Jace Howard hit his third three of the season to give the Wolverines a 26-17 edge with 7:14 on the clock. Khayat made his second three of the year a few possessions earlier. Eight of the 16 combined made field goals for both teams were threes at that juncture.

Michigan’s defense went down the drain as the half went on. The Wildcats started 5-of-22 shooting from the floor but made 6 of their next 8 attempts, tying the game at 30-30 after an 11-2 run. Michigan led 33-32 after a tough, off-balance catch-and-shoot three from graduate guard Nimari Burnett at the 3:18 mark. Burnett hit a two along the baseline off of one foot on the previous possession.

Michigan didn’t score in the final 2:34 of the half, a stretch that was plagued by 3 Wolverine turnovers. With the game tied at 34-34 with five seconds remaining, Langborg made his second three of the game to give the Wildcats their first lead since being up 2-0. That was the score at the break.

Northwestern recorded 9 offensive rebounds that led to 6 second-chance points. The Wildcats also capitalized with 10 points off of 6 Michigan turnovers. Buie led all scorers with 10 points at the break.

Second half

Northwestern extended its run dating to the first half to 9-0 to pull ahead 41-34. Michigan didn’t score for well over two minutes into the second stanza, but the Maize and Blue battled thanks to a hot streak from Burnett. He scored eight of the team’s 10 points on a 10-2 surge to take a 44-43 lead. Burnett had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting at the 15:24 media timeout.

Northwestern created separation with back-to-back three-pointers from Langborg — his third and fourth of the game — going up 51-44 with 14:20 to go. That caused U-M head coach Juwan Howard to call timeout.

Michigan’s defense was already failing, but then a scoring drought ensued. The Wolverines didn’t score for nearly three minutes, while Northwestern made 4 of 5 field goal attempts during that span, and the Wildcats opened up a 55-46 lead. Graduate guard Jaelin Llewellyn stopped the bleeding with a pair of made free throws at the 11:04 mark. The drought coincided with Jace Howard and Khayat entering the game.

Michigan went over six minutes without making a field goal, but sophomore forward Tarris Reed Jr. broke the team out of a slump with an and-one but missed free throw to cut the deficit to 59-50 with just over nine minutes left. Northwestern continued to pull away, however. A layup from forward Nick Martinelli made it 63-52 with 6:20 to play, with that 11-point edge tying Northwestern’s largest lead of the night to that point.

Michigan called a timeout but turned it over with an offensive foul on the next possession. Barnhizer hit a tough two-point jumper to put Northwestern up 65-52 with over five minutes left. Langborg nailed a triple to make it 68-54 on the next trip down the floor.

With just under two minutes to go, Barnhizer hit a turnaround hook shot to take a 76-56 lead. Michigan called timeout, but it was too late to mount a comeback anyway. The Wildcats had made 5 of their last 6 field goal attempts and 17 of their 29 for the second half (58.6 percent).

Northwestern closed out the 76-62 win. Buie was taken out of the game so he could receive a standing ovation from the home crowd with 14 seconds left, putting a cap on the night.

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