The matchup of two teams looking to rebound from losses last weekend nearly turned into a laugher, as No. 5 Michigan led by as many as 19 points during the second half.
But No. 9 Minnesota fought back as they did at Indiana last Saturday, cutting the deficit to as low as seven. In the end the turnovers, a 20-7 run to start the second half and Michigan’s shooting proved to be too much to overcome, as the Wolverines left Williams Arena with an 83-75 victory.
Tim Hardaway Jr. led Michigan (17-1, 4-1 Big Ten) with 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and Trey Burke added 18 points and nine assists. As a team Michigan shot 54.9% from the field and 10-of-20 from beyond the arc. What also helped Michigan was the fact that they were able to score 24 points off of 15 Golden Gopher turnovers.
“We just turned the ball over and we haven’t been playing defense like we’ve been playing,” said Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe following the loss. “We’ve been having a turnover problem the whole season and it’s kind of catching up to us. You can’t play that way against top teams like Indiana, Michigan. They took advantage of it.”
The final margin in the points off turnovers category was 24-13, with Minnesota being able to fight their way back into the game as they closed the gap in this area. Austin Hollins led four Minnesota (15-3, 3-2) players in double figures with 21 points and Mbakwe tallied a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds.
Minnesota entered the game as one of the nation’s best teams when it came to hitting the offensive glass, as they managed to grab 48% of their missed shots.
The Golden Gophers out-rebounded Michigan 33-25, grabbing 14 offensive boards (46.7% offensive rebounding percentage), but they outscored the Wolverines by a margin of just 12-10 in second chance points.
Jordan Morgan tallied nine points and four rebounds inside for Michigan, which shot better from the field and consistently found better shots than they did in their loss at No. 11 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.
Minnesota, with 15 turnovers that Michigan was able to turn into points on the other end, dug themselves a hole too deep to climb out of. And with the same thing happening in their loss at No. 2 Indiana (17 turnovers that Indiana turned into 27 points), it’s pretty clear what issue Tubby Smith and his team need to address in advance of their trip to Northwestern next Wednesday.