LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Michigan hadn’t played a game in 12 days and hadn’t left Ann Arbor all season. The layoff didn’t deter the No. 19 Wolverines.
Franz Wagner had 20 points and Michigan scored 10 straight points early in the second half to pull away from Nebraska in an 80-69 victory Friday.
“I’m impressed with how the guys handled themselves during the stretch (with no games),” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “It’s not easy … to come out and play after the long layoff, I wasn’t worried about the first half. Nebraska’s a good team. The second half, we did a better job defensively.”
Michigan (7-0, 2-0 Big Ten) started slow in its first game since Dec. 13 due to coronavirus concerns but stunned Nebraska (4-5, 0-2) with the two-minute flurry that began with Isaiah Livers’ 3-pointer. Wagner close it with a 25-footer that put the Wolverines up 53-41 with 14:38 remaining.
“I laughed at halftime and told the guys ‘They’re going to fall, keep shooting them,’” Howard said. “Sure enough, in the second half, they started making them. It was inspiring to watch.”
Nebraska put together an 11-2 run, highlighted by a steal and breakaway dunk by Trey McGowens, and cut the Michigan lead to 64-60 on McGowens’ free throws with 6:20 left.
The Wolverines countered with a 7-2 spurt, going up 71-62 on Eli Brooks’ fast-break layup with 4:45 remaining. Nebraska didn’t get closer than six the rest of the way.
Michigan struggled to get on track from long distance in the first half, hitting just 4 of 17 3-point attempts. Nebraska led for much of the half behind 21 points from Teddy Allen, who finished with a career high 25.
That also changed in the second half when Chaundee Brown Jr. started guarding the hot Husker.
“At one of the timeouts, Chaundee said to me ‘Coach, I want Allen.’ I said ’you got him,” Howard said. “It shows the character he has to guard the other team’s best player. He did a great job making it hard for Teddy.”
Livers had 17 points for the Wolverines. Hunter Dickinson had 13 points and 15 rebounds, Chaundee Brown, Jr. had 13 points and Mike Smith had 10 points
Dalano Banton had 17 points for Nebraska and McGowens had 15 points.
Dickinson, who turned up on the postgame Zoom press conference wearing a Santa hat, said he enjoyed his first college road game.
“It was pretty fun,” he said. “I wish there were fans. You don’t get that all the way experience with no fans. But it was fun to go to another arena and get the win.”
Michigan: This is the third consecutive season Michigan has begun 7-0. Last year’s Wolverines opened 7-0 before losing to No. 1 Louisville. In 2018-2019, Michigan started the year 17-0, a school record.
Nebraska: Lost its 11th straight game to a ranked team. The Huskers’ last win over a ranked team was a 69-61 win over No. 21 Maryland in the 2019 Big Ten Tournament. Its last home win over a ranked team was against No. 23 Michigan in 2018.
Michigan is at Maryland on Thursday.
Nebraska is at Ohio State on Wednesday.