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January 9, 2013Michigan head coach John Beilein joked that games like Wednesday's tougher than expected, 62-47 victory over Nebraska was the kind that soaked his t-shirt.
"That might be too much information," he then quipped to laughter in the media room.
Win No. 16, though, was no laughing matter to Beilein. What many saw as an ugly win was a thing of beauty to the head coach.
"You may not believe this, but I thought that was a great win," Beilein said. "I told our team, there are so many things the stats will tell you that back up that statement. If you've coached long, know what those young men went through tonight, we can talk more about it. In a game you can't make a shot or a foul shot, the ball bounces the other team's way - you still find a way to win."
They did it by attacking the offensive glass and doing enough defensively - with help from a team that shot only 33 percent and missed some easy looks - to stay a step ahead the entire game. When they scored, the Cornhuskers often answered, usually with Ray Gallegos (19 points).
When they didn't, which was often - the Wolverines made only three of 17 triples and missed the front ends of one-and-ones and several other free throws - Nebraska was never able to close the gap beyond the five points they trailed at the half.
"They only went to the foul line six or seven times," Beilein said. "Coaches, believe or not, love these type of wins. We don't necessarily like coaching them, but looking back at them, these are the ones that build teams. It allows credence right away to what we preach.
"Nebraska did a great job shortening the game. They are a long, really quick, athletic team that plays very solid man defense. They made us do some things we hadn't seen this year, and we'll learn from it."
They deserved credit for pulling out a 15-point win, too, he added.
"They played very, very containing," he said. "It's not like they have guys that aren't quick, and they're containing. Getting in the lane is a challenge. We got there. They guarded the ball screen a little bit differently, forced us to shoot behind it. Several times we missed some really good shots; some we would rather have back.
"But [the tempo], I thought we handled it well. There were a few anxious moments in the first half when they had to learn, as coach says, when you have a short possession game, there aren't that many times to get hot. There are shots maybe we can get better on. Who knows if we are going to get a better shot, but if the possession lasts long enough, maybe we can get one. That's not the last time we're going to see that, that's for sure."
The bottom line: a win's a win, and the Wolverines will go for a record 17th straight to open the year in Columbus Sunday.
"That was great win we had to grind out - difficult, but at the same time one we need to have," Beilein said. "That adversity is good stuff in the long run."