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February 21, 2012

Instant Breakdown: Michigan 67, Northwestern 55 (OT)

Live by the three, die by the three … live by the three.

Michigan played extremely hard defensively and came up with timely triples down the stretch and in overtime to beat Northwestern 67-55 in overtime and stay in the thick of the Big Ten race. U-M improved to 11-4 in the conference and 21-7 overall despite a 4-for-10 showing at the line and 2-for-9 three-point showing for Tim Hardaway, Jr. and subpar performances offensively from other usually reliable starters.

Early foul trouble didn't help, either. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan and sophomore Evan Smotrycz both picked up two quick fouls in a tightly called contest, and senior Zack Novak also missed much of the first half with two. The Wolverines led 5-0 early but struggled with both Morgan and Smotrycz on the bench, especially on the glass. Junior Blake McLimans struggled on the defensive end and the Wildcats outrebounded U-M 20-10 in the first half, scoring big in the paint in grabbing a 31-24 lead.

Hardaway left four points at the foul line in the first half alone and the Wolverines again missed some opportunities inside.

That continued early in the second half. Morgan failed to finish twice inside, but the Wolverines were able to chip away at the Wildcats' lead by playing stifling defense and finally penetrating a bit. Hardaway notched a finish inside and good ball movement against the Wildcats' 1-3-1 set up open looks for the shooters. Junior Matt Vogrich hit a key triple from the corner and senior Stu Douglass (4-for-7 from long range for the game) also hit to make it a nip and tuck game.

Northwestern took a 47-43 lead down the stretch on a short Jon Shurna jumper before Burke stepped up with the first of five, huge U-M triples. Hardaway tied it at 49 from the corner with a three of his own after Shurna scored again, and both teams missed opportunities to score on their last possessions to set up overtime.

Michigan seized control early in the extra session. Burke started it with a triple from the top set up by Novak, who corralled a loose ball after a wild scramble. Novak then hit his only bucket of the game, a triple from the corner, to push the lead to six, and Douglass made it three in a row to push it to nine with just over two minutes remaining. The Wolverines continued to defend down the stretch and closed it out from the line.

Burke led the way for U-M with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists, Hardaway added 14 points and six assists, Douglass 12 points and five assists and Vogrich nine points on three triples in six attempts. U-M hoisted 38 three-pointers and made 14 to Northwestern's three-for-16 showing.

Shurna led the Wildcats with 14 points, but shot only 6-for-16.


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