Michigan came out lethargic in the first four minutes of its 79-71 win over Penn State and stayed that way, falling behind 9-8 at the first timeout in struggling on the defensive end. Sophomore Trey Burke scored seven of U-M's first eight points, but U-M missed some bunnies inside and didn't rebound well early, getting outhustled for the majority of the game.
The Wolverines also struggled to contain PSU's Jermaine Marshall in the early going. He scored seven of the Nittany Lions' first nine points while his teammates struggled to gain separation against U-M's aggressive defense.
Michigan, though, was poor on offense as well. Freshman Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr. airballed jump shots, and McGary bricked an uncontested lay-up after Penn State's Brandton Taylor tripled. PSU scored on its next trip, as well, to take a 14-9 lead at 11:25.
Burke was 3-3, the rest of the Wolverines 0-for-7 after Hardaway missed a triple. A blow-by and finish by Nick Collella resulted in a three-point play that made it 17-9 PSU, forcing the Wolverines to play from behind.
Freshman Glenn Robinson III ended the scoring drought with two free throws. Burke hit a triple to cut the deficit to 18-14 at 9:40, but the Nittany Lions won most battles for loose balls and freshman Nik Stauskas missed two wide open triples before Hardaway Jr. hit a pull-up jumper in transition to cut it to 18-16.
U-M continued to lose cutters on defense, and Morgan picked up his second foul early. The Wolverines went with Max Bielfeldt and Jon Horford on the floor at the same time, but the added bulk resulted in a tip in by Marshall after Stuaksas got beat off the dribble. Stauskas then missed yet another triple, allowing PSU to maintain a five-point advantage.
A highlight reel alley-oop from Burke to Hardaway, a charge taken by LeVert and a no look pass from McGary to Robinson III for a reverse slam finally brought life to a dead crowd. It didn't rattle Penn State. U-M continued to struggle defensively and put up airballs on the offensive end (five in the first half), leading to a 30-25 PSU lead at 2:24.
A hustle play by McGary led to an intentional foul on PSU in transition on which Stauskas was fouled. He made both free throws and Robinson made one on the subsequent possession to cut it to 30-28. Penn State continued to get to the rim, but Burke scored four straight, including a runner in transition, to finally tie it at 32 at the break.
Burke led U-M with 14 points. Robinson scored eight with three rebounda and Stauskas added six for the Wolverines.
Horford started the second half in place of Morgan for U-M. Burke found Robinson cutting the lane for a two-point Michigan lead, but Hardaway missed nearly everything after a nice move in transition got him to the rim.
Stauskas picked up a loose ball to score uncontested in transition and hit two free throws after getting fouled the next time down to expand U-M's lead to 38-32. Michigan spent the next four minutes with two big men on the floor in Morgan and Horford, but it didn't play off. Brandon Taylor's three-pointer tied the game at 38 after a Stauskas turnover, one for which he atoned with a triple of his own the next time down the floor.
That started a relative offensive explosion. Burke hit a three, Stauskas hit Robinson III for another alley-oop and Robinson III finished an and-one opportunity to make it 51-42 at 12:44.
U-M could never put PSU away. Robinson converted another alley-oop in transition, but he gave up an offensive rebound on the other end. PSU's Nick Colella hit two triples from the corner to bring the deficit back to three points, 53-50.
Senior Matt Vogrich got some run in the second half, and U-M also played some 1-3-1. Nothing helped the Wolverines pull away, however. It was still a 55-54 game at 8:40 before Hardaway drove and hit a circus reverse lay-up. Burke drove and found Stauskas for a three that put U-M back up by six.
Hardaway's triple from the corner on an assist from Burke gave U-M its biggest lead again at nine points, 65-56 with 6:30 remaining. Burke and McGary, though, both missed the front ends of one-and-ones to keep PSU within 10. Michigan's 1-3-1 defense led to a wide open D.J. Newbill three that cut it to six before Stauskas answered with a runner at 3:30 that made it 69-61.
PSU matched U-M score for score down the stretch, forcing the Wolverines to win it from the free throw line. Robinson III was especially effective, going 9-for-11 from the stripe.
Burke scored 25 and added five assists against no turnovers to lead the Wolverines. Robinson Notched 21 and nine rebounds, Stauskas 18 and four assists and Hardaway eight points in the win. The Wolverines improved to 22-4, 9-4 in Big Ten play.