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Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Paul’

Michigan 71 – Illinois 58: Wolverines top Illini to stay perfect at home

Sunday, February 24th, 2013


Final 1st 2nd Total
#7 Michigan (23-4, 10-4) 28 43 71
Illinois (20-9, 7-8) 31 27 58

Trey Burke scored 26 points and dished out eight assists (MGoBlue.com)

After coming off a brutal four-game stretch that included three road losses to top-25 teams, the Michigan Wolverines returned home last week Sunday looking flat and uninspired against the lowly Penn State Nittany Lions. For nearly the entire game, the winless Lions traded punches with the mighty Wolverines, getting into the lane seemingly at will, making timely three-pointers, and forcing Michigan to play much harder than they had apparently planned after trailing throughout the first half. The Maize and Blue never led by more than nine points in a way-too-close 79-71 squeaker that afternoon.

Fast forward one week, a week that Michigan got to rest up during and focus on defense, which has been their Achilles’ heel so far. Illinois entered today’s game as the winners of five straight, including huge victories over Indiana at home and at Minnesota. First-year head coach John Groce’s team was coming together after struggling through the early part of their Big Ten schedule, opening conference play losing seven of their first nine games.

Certainly if Michigan played like they had last week, the Fighting Illini wouldn’t let a golden opportunity slip away as Penn State did, and for the first half again, the tide seemed to be crashing that way. The Wolverines plodded through 20 minutes missing box outs, losing out on loose balls, and overall playing very sloppy basketball, and they paid the consequences. Allowing a team like Illinois to rebound nearly half of their misses and turning the ball over six times led to a 31-28 deficit for the home squad at Crisler Center; granted, the lead was aided by a buzzer-beating three-pointer off the glass from Brandon Paul and a couple circus threes to start the game that gave Illinois an eight-point lead early, but Michigan was again playing below par.

Was this what Michigan had become? After running scathe-free through the non-conference schedule and grabbing the nation’s top ranking briefly in January, were the Wolverines finally showing their true colors? Or were those three losses simply a case of running into great teams playing well on their home floors?

All these questions loomed before Michigan inbounded to start the second half. By the time the final buzzer had rung, Michigan had answered.

Four minutes into the second half, John Beilein’s team raced out to a five-point lead and never looked back, sending Illinois a message that not just any team can travel to Ann Arbor and board the bus home with smiles on their faces.

Trey Burke wasn’t going to let former Ohio coach John Groce beat him again after the heartbreaker in the Tournament last year, scoring 19 points and dishing out four assists for good measure in the second half.

Brady Hoke liked what he saw while hosting a big recruiting weekend (MGoBlue.com)

Glenn Robinson III wasn’t going to let the doubters continue to run their mouths after his play was widely questioned in Michigan’s rough stretch a couple weeks back, throwing down two huge dunks to open the half on his way to scoring 10 points overall.

Perhaps most of all, Caris LeVert wasn’t going to let Groce forget about him after signing him at Ohio and bolting to Illinois in the offseason, draining two monster threes and two more free throws after the break.

Offense has never really been a problem for this team, and they showed that again today. The difference was on the other end of the court, where Michigan constantly hounded Illinois ball-handlers, deflecting all sorts of balls and forcing bad passes and worse shots throughout the second half.

Illinois struggled to respond to the pressure and to the noise in the building, turning the ball over 13 times while only making 41.2 percent of their shots. Groce’s looks of encouragement early on slowly shifted to helplessness as Michigan proved to be lethally efficient from the field, making 51 percent of their own attempts from the field.

It seemed that the week off paid huge dividends for all of Michigan’s players, as they were noticeably quicker and more alert on defense, often double-teaming Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand, and D.J. Richardson out to the half court line and recovering very well from there.

With such an arduous run of games now in the rearview mirror, the Wolverines did exactly what they had to today, holding serve convincingly at home against one of the hotter teams in the country. With Burke continuing to run the show so effectively, finishing the afternoon with 26 points, eight assists, and only one turnover, Michigan is elite. A healthy Jordan Morgan will continue to help the team improve after flexing his muscle to shore up the rebounding department in the second half, and a timely Tim Hardaway, Jr. should be the vocal and intense leader that can also fill up the stat sheet for the Maize and Blue down the stretch.

Performances like this one suggest that Michigan will be a tough team to bring down in March, and while every team will certainly have weaker areas, the defensive showing today must be extremely encouraging. Any questions?

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 5-9 0-3 0-0 0 3 3 1 10 0 0 0 2 36
4 Mitch McGary* 3-4 0-0 0-2 1 1 2 3 6 0 1 1 1 16
03 Trey Burke* 8-11 2-3 8-10 0 3 3 0 26 8 1 0 1 39
10 Tim Hardaway Jr.* 4-11 1-4 4-5 1 6 7 1 13 3 4 0 2 36
11 Nik Stauskas* 0-5 0-4 0-0 1 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 26
02 Spike Albrecht 1-2 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 3 0 1 0 1 7
15 Jon Horford 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 4 1 1 0 0 7
23 Caris LeVert 2-3 2-3 2-2 0 2 2 3 8 1 0 0 1 16
52 Jordan Morgan 0-0 0-0 1-2 3 3 6 2 1 2 1 0 1 17
Totals 25-49 6-18 15-21 7 22 29 11 71 15 10 1 9 200
Illinois 21-51 7-22 9-14 8 20 28 16 58 7 13 4 3 200

Michigan vs Illinois preview

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013


#7 Michigan vs Illinois
Sunday, Feb. 24 | 1pm ET | ESPN
22-4 (9-4) Record 20-8 (7-7)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Iowa 95-67
Nebraska 62-47
#9 Minnesota 83-75
Purdue 68-53
Illinois 74-60
Northwestern 68-46
#10 Ohio State 76-74 OT
Penn State 79-71
Wins Colgate 75-55
St. Francis NY 89-64
Hawaii 78-77 OT
USC 94-64
Chaminade 84-61
Butler 78-61
Gardner-Webb 63-62
Georgia Tech 75-62
W. Carolina 72-64
#10 Gonzaga 85-74
Norfolk State 64-54
E. Kentucky 66-53
Auburn 81-79
#8 Ohio State 74-55
Nebraska 71-51
#1 Indiana 74-72
#18 Minnesota 57-53
Purdue 79-59
Northwestern 62-41
Penn State 64-59
#15 Ohio State 56-53
#3 Indiana 73-81
Wisconsin 62-65 OT
#8 Michigan State 52-75
Losses #12 Missouri 73-82
Purdue 61-68
#8 Minnesota 67-84
Wisconsin 51-74
Northwestern 54-68
#2 Michigan 60-74
#13 Michigan State 75-80
Wisconsin 68-74
76.2 Points Per Game 71.2
61.4 Scoring Defense 65.1
739-for-1,498 (49.3%) Field Goal % 699-for-1,634 (42.8%)
609-for-1,459 (41.7%) Def. Field Goal % 634-for-1,508 (42.0%)
210-for-524 (40.1%) 3-point % 222-for-671 (33.1%)
170-for-529 (32.1%) Def. 3-point % 183-for-532 (34.4%)
292-for-413 (70.7%) Free Throw % 374-for-522 (71.6%)
11.2 FT Made/Game 13.4
35.8 Rebounds Per Game 34.2
30.6 Opp. Reb. Per Game 34.8
14.8 Assists Per Game 10.8
9.5 Turnovers Per Game 11.6
5.6 Steals Per Game 7.2
2.7 Blocks Per Game 4.0
G – Trey Burke (18.6)
G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.2)
Leading Scorer G – Brandon Paul (16.4)
G – DJ Richardson (12.9)
F – Mitch McGary (5.9)
F – Glenn Robinson III (5.6)
Leading Rebounder G – Joseph Bertrand (4.5)
F – Nnanna Egwu (4.5)

At this point in the season for the past three or four years, Michigan has faced must-win games down the stretch in order to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. This year, there’s no question the Wolverines will get in; the question is whether the Wolverines will win the Big Ten and finish well enough to earn a No. 1 seed. On Sunday, a team comes to town in the very position Michigan is happy not to be in this season.

Illinois has enough quality wins to earn a bid to the big dance, but the Illini can’t afford to slip up down the stretch. The rough spell in January that saw Illinois lose six of seven – and eight of eleven from Dec. 22 to Feb. 3 – nearly wiped out the Illini’s chances. But that all changed when a beautifully executed inbounds play at the buzzer shocked No. 1 Indiana. It sparked a string of five straight wins and the Illini now find themselves as the hottest team in the Big Ten.

John Groce’s squad comes to Ann Arbor looking to avenge a 74-60 loss to the Wolverines in Champagne on Jan. 27. That win propelled Michigan to the No.1 national ranking, but it also came at a cost, as Michigan lost Jordan Morgan to an ankle injury. He hasn’t been 100 percent since then and Michigan has gone just 3-3 since then.

Illinois surrendered 15 turnovers in the first meeting and Michigan dominated the paint with 42 points, even without Morgan for much of the game. You can bet Groce will aim to prevent that again, especially given the struggles that Michigan’s freshmen Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III have faced over the past few weeks. The two had good games against the Illini last time out, scoring 14 points and 12 points, respectively, but have not fared well during Michigan’s rough patch, and Groce will want to force them to beat his Illini.

Star guard Brandon Paul has had his own share of troubles as of late, scoring 10, three, and eight points against Minnesota, Purdue, and Northwestern. He shot just 6-of-22 in those three games, but the Illini won all three. That’s a good sign for Groce because it means others are stepping up – most notably D.J. Richardson. The senior guard has averaged 17.3 points per game over the last nine and 18 points during the five-game winning streak while shooting 46 percent.

As a team, Illinois shoots just under 43 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from three. The good thing for Michigan is that the Illini have the conference’s second worst scoring defense, ahead of only Penn State, the third-worst field goal percentage defense, and the second worst three-point percentage defense, so Michigan should be able to score often. Illinois is also not a great rebounding team, so the Wolverines won’t be overmatched on the boards like they were against Michigan State.

Michigan is still struggling to regain the top form that carried it through the first half of the season, while Illinois is soaring with momentum. The home crowd will benefit Michigan, but as the Wolverines saw with Penn State last Sunday, they can’t sleep on anyone. Expect a dog-fight to the end and a great guard battle between the combos of Trey Burke-Tim Hardaway Jr. and Paul-Richardson. Michigan’s ability to score inside should determine the outcome. Prediction: Michigan 77 – Illinois 73

Michigan at Illinois quick thoughts

Sunday, January 27th, 2013


#2 Michigan at Illinois
Sunday, Jan. 27 | 6pm ET | Big Ten Network
18-1 (5-1) Record 15-5 (2-4)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Iowa 95-67
Nebraska 62-47
#9 Minnesota 83-75
Purdue 68-53
Wins Colgate 75-55
St. Francis NY 89-64
Hawaii 78-77 OT
USC 94-64
Chaminade 84-61
Butler 78-61
Gardner-Webb 63-62
Georgia Tech 75-62
W. Carolina 72-64
#10 Gonzaga 85-74
Norfolk State 64-54
E. Kentucky 66-53
Auburn 81-79
#8 Ohio State 74-55
Nebraska 71-51
#15 Ohio State 56-53 Losses #12 Missouri 72-83
Purdue 61-68
#8 Minnesota 67-84
Wisconsin 51-74
Northwestern 54-68
78.7 Points Per Game 72.8
59.2 Scoring Defense 65.6
553-for-1,087 (50.9%) Field Goal % 507-for-1,175 (43.1%)
431-for-1,062 (40.6%) Def. Field Goal % 459-for-1,107 (41.5%)
161-for-392 (41.1%) 3-point % 165-for-491 (33.6%)
123-for-388 (31.7%) Def. 3-point % 135-for-393 (34.4%)
229-for-321 (71.3%) Free Throw % 276-for-387 (66.9%)
12.1 FT Made/Game 13.8
37.1 Rebounds Per Game 35.3
28.8 Opp. Reb. Per Game 34.8
15.7 Assists Per Game 10.9
9.7 Turnovers Per Game 12.3
5.5 Steals Per Game 7.9
2.9 Blocks Per Game 4.8
G – Trey Burke (17.8)
G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.2)
Leading Scorer G – Brandon Paul (18.0)
G – D.J. Richardson (11.8)
F – Glenn Robinson (5.9)
F – Mitch McGary (5.6)
Leading Rebounder G – Brandon Paul (4.8)
G – Joseph Bertrand (4.7)

Two Sundays ago, the Michigan Wolverines found themselves on the road facing a hostile crowd in the Big Ten. A win in that game against Ohio State would have secured the top national ranking in that Monday’s polls after the number one team in the country, Duke, fell to North Carolina State the day prior.

Tonight, Michigan finds itself in an almost identical position as the Maize and Blue travel to Champaign to take on the Fighting Illini (6pm on BTN) with number one on the line after Duke was trounced by Miami on Wednesday.

Illinois got off to a hot start this season with new head coach John Groce leading the ship, and Groce certainly had the Wolverines’ number last year after coaching his then-squad, the Ohio Bobcats, to a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament. Here are a few quick keys to the game for Michigan as they battle with plenty on the line:

  1. Defense, Defense, Defense: In Thursday’s win over Purdue, Michigan again struggled on the defensive end of the court, allowing the poor-shooting Boilermakers to take a one-point lead into halftime after leaving countless players wide open from downtown. Illinois’s offensive profile is very similar to Purdue’s in that the guards will account for the vast majority of the shooting and scoring and they are not afraid to let it fly from deep. Senior Brandon Paul is the star for the Illini, scoring 18 points per game on slightly more than 13 shot attempts, half of which are from downtown, where he makes just 34.1 percent of his looks. Backcourt mate and fellow senior D.J. Richardson has surprisingly shot more threes this year than Paul with a ridiculous 141 attempts (to Paul’s 132), which comes out to more than seven bombs per game. Unfortunately for Groce, Richardson is really struggling from deep, making fewer than one in every three heaves, and his 37.4 percent connection on all shots is downright cringe-worthy. The third amigo in the backcourt is sophomore Tracy Abrams, who scores 11.4 points per game and leads the team with 3.2 dimes a night while shooting a horrendous 28.3 percent from deep and turning the ball over nearly three times a game as well.This Illinois team is certainly not going to scare anyone off with their 43.1 percent and 33.6 percent marks from the field and three, respectively, and they settle for far too many triples for their own good, but when they do get hot, they become very dangerous very fast. In wins versus Butler, at Gonzaga, and over Ohio State at home, Illinois shot 48 percent or better from the field all three times and 40 percent or better from long range twice on at least 25 attempts. In their five losses, however, Illinois only shot better than 36 percent from the field once (38.8% against Northwestern) and shot worse than 15 percent from downtown three times. It’s obviously very difficult to defend a team that doesn’t miss, but Illinois is not that team. Michigan needs to focus on closing out hard and getting a hand in the face of every shooter.
  2. Brandon Paul averaged 18 points in two games against Michigan last season (Michael Hickey, Getty Images)

  1. Box Out: When a team starts the season winning 18 of their first 19 games, there is never much to harp on, and rebounding the basketball has certainly not been an issue so far for this Wolverine squad. The Illinois team will present a slightly different challenge in that category, however, as nearly half (48.8%) of their misses on the season are threes, which can clang off the rim and end up anywhere. John Beilein will certainly stress boxing out in this game so that all of Illinois’s rebounding options are covered, and man defense should be played almost exclusively. One thing the Orange and Blue do very well is rebound as a team. None of their players particularly stand out in cleaning up the glass, but they rarely get beat on the boards and seven different players average between 3.5 and five rebounds per game, not unlike the Wolverines and their rebound-by-committee outlook.
  1. Quiet the Crowd Early: Michigan only has one loss so far this season. That loss was on the road, in the Big Ten, and played with a raucous home crowd yelling as loud as possible in hopes of upsetting one of the best teams in the country. As you may recall, the Wolverines struggled to get out of the gates in that game, ceding a 20-plus point deficit early on and letting the crowd play too big a role. By the time Michigan finally caught Ohio State in the second half, they had spent too much energy to complete the comeback. Tonight, the Orange Krush will be giving everything they have to help propel their team to a huge upset, but if Michigan can get out to a hot start, which they have failed to do in recent games, the crowd should largely be taken out of the equation. If Michigan enters the break down, like they did against Purdue, their chances of being best in the country come Monday will be in severe danger.

Prediction: While this is certainly a young Michigan basketball team, they have already gained a bevy of invaluable experience and should rely upon their memory of that Ohio State game to help them get out on the right foot and run away from the home team in the second half, as opposed to catching up to them. The Wolverines simply have too much talent for Ilinois to handle, and Beilein is certainly not going to let Groce hand him a tough loss two seasons in a row. Trey Burke shows Brandon Paul who is boss in the Big Ten as Michigan rolls, 73-62.