Michigan’s biggest concern coming into Saturday’s game against Arkansas centered around pressure. Would they be able to neutralize the effectiveness of the Razorback’s style of play by limiting turnovers and controlling the pace?
Though they ran into some difficulties in the second half, the answer seemed to be “yes,” as a strong late push lifted the Wolverines to a win, 80-67, and kept their perfect record intact.
The Wolverines led by as many as 12 points with 6:23 remaining in the first half and led by double digits at halftime.
In the second half, though, increased Arkansas pressure led to a 12-5 run that cut the Michigan lead to just two points with 12 minutes to play. But, just before a timeout, Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr., hit a fall-away three-point to extend the lead to five points.
All five Michigan starters scored in double figures, including Hardaway, Jr., with 14 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Glenn Robinson III led all Wolverines with 17 points.
Arkansas continued to stick around down the stretch, pulling to within one possession on three different occasions, but was never able to tie the game.
Arkansas cut the lead to one point, 56-55, with 8:48 to go, but a 14-4 run immediately followed, pushing the lead to double digits and putting the game away.
The Razorbacks got an unlikely contribution from junior Kikko Haydar Saturday. Prior to the game against Michigan, Haydar was averaging one point in under seven minutes per game. He starred Saturday with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 4-of-4 from three-point range.
Rickey Scott also starred coming off the bench with 10 points. Marshawn Powell led all scorers with 18 points.
Michigan has the pieces to be a Final Four team this season. They have the scorers—Robinson III, Burke, and Hardaway, Jr. They have an elite shooter who can stretch the defense in Nik Stauskas. And, as they showed Saturday, they have the paint presence to eliminate any liabilities on the inside.
Jordan Morgan finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Mitch McGary had another solid game with six points and five rebounds.
And, though it could be overlooked, Jon Horford had two key blocks and rebound in the middle of the second half while Morgan and McGary were on the bench that helped to stop an Arkansas run.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_