morgan

Balanced attack leads No. 10 Michigan past Purdue

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Without Mitch McGary, the production of veteran big men Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan has become even more important for No. 10 Michigan. While neither needs to turn into a player who will post 20 points and ten rebounds on a nightly basis, as the Wolverines have other players more capable of scoring, they do have to be productive players who make the most of their time on the floor.

Recently it’s been Morgan who’s stepped up, and on Thursday night the fifth-year season accounted for 11 points and six rebounds in Michigan’s 75-66 win over Purdue. Horford added four points, three rebounds and two assists, and the 15 points and nine rebounds combined from Michigan’s interior tandem was more than enough against the struggling Boilermakers. Nik Stauskas scored 16 points and Caris LeVert (11 rebounds) and Derrick Walton Jr. added 14 apiece to lead the way offensively for Michigan, which shot 60.9% from the field and 7-for-13 from beyond the arc.

There were issues for Michigan however, as the Wolverines turned the ball over 16 times (Stauskas and LeVert had four apiece) and they weren’t at their best on the defensive glass either. Purdue managed to rebound 39.5% of its missed shots, scoring 19 second-chance points and 48 points in the paint.

With an eye towards the bigger games remaining in Big Ten play, the rebounding and points allowed in the paint are areas the Wolverines will need to address after this victory. Entering the game Michigan had done a good job of keeping teams off the offensive glass, rebounding more than 72% of their opponents’ missed shots. They got away from that some on Thursday night but due to their shooting percentages it didn’t prove to be an issue against Purdue.

That may not be the case against better competition, which makes the progression of Morgan and Horford important as the season approaches March. If those two can combine to help Michigan control the glass and the paint, John Beilein’s team will be even tougher to beat.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: