What a great game this turned out to be. Michigan went up 7-4 early in the game and that was the last lead they would have until the 2:23 mark of the second half when DeShawn Sims hit a free throw to put Michigan up 52-51.
After the game Coach John Beilein said, “Some nights you can have all kinds of things go wrong.” In the first half of the game Michigan did have all kinds of things go wrong.
Savannah State came out playing full court pressure defense and hitting just about every shot they threw up. In fact they made the first 9 shots they took and during that span Michigan turned the ball over 9 times. Savannah State went on a 20-0 run in the 1st half and lead by 20 at halftime. For the half Savannah State shot an outrageous 71% from the field. Perhaps the best example of the crazy shots the Tigers were hitting is this, Michigan had played a really good defensive sequence and as the shot clock was winding down Savannah State’s Raye Bailey launched a wild three pointer that banked in off the glass and just beat the shot clock.
As coach Beilein said after the game, the players were rattled. His message to the team at half time was, “I don’t know if Michigan’s ever had a team come back from 20 down buts lets be the first to do it”.
DeShawn Sims, who played a phenomenal game, opened the second half by hitting a 3 pointer and Michigan begin chipping away at that 20 point lead. Savannah State did not score the first 7 minutes of the half and Michigan had cut the lead down to 5.
From then on it was a dogfight with both teams making some big shots. DeShawn Sims hit a couple of big ones; one was a nice jump hook off the glass, another on an alley oop from Manny Harris. Jevohn Shepherd hit a big shot as well during the final stretch of the second half.
Manny Harris had 4 points at halftime but came out in the second half playing hard, creating turnovers on defense, grabbing some big rebounds and going a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line in the second half (he was 14-14 overall).
With score tied at 56 and less then 4 seconds to play Savannah State was working for the last shot when Zack Novak came up with a huge steal and took it all the way to the rim for a potential game winning dunk at the buzzer. The only bad part was that the dunk rattled out. That fact should not overshadow the monumental steal that Novak had to thwart Savannah State’s attempt to win the game.
The overtime period was much like the final 10 minutes of regulation with both teams battling hard; Savannah State trying not to let their huge upset slip away and Michigan trying to finish off the huge comeback.
In the overtime Zack Novak nailed a critical three pointer that put Michigan up 61-60. Savannah State’s Arnold Louis came right back and hit a big shot of his own to put the Tigers up 62-61. On the other end Manny Harris drove the baseline and hit a tough shot and was fouled. He finished off the 3 point play and Michigan was up 64-62. With 5 seconds to play Jovonni Shuler tied the game. Manny Harris took the inbounds pass and made a tough pass to DeShawn Sims who then brought the house down with a long two point field goal at the buzzer.
I asked Zack Novak after the game what Coach Beilein thought about the missed dunk he said Coach told him that’s what he would have wanted him to do (dunk instead of a lay up). I did follow up by asking him if hitting that 3 point shot in overtime felt pretty good and he said it did. Novak played a great game down the stretch and made some big shots including 3 clutch three pointers. He also played hard on the defensive end and came up with a game saving steal at the end of regulation.
DeShawn Sims was a force in this game. He hauled down 12 rebounds and scored 23 points. After the game Coach Beilein said Sims has become a warrior and that he has worked really, really hard.
Coach also said this when asked about the unexpected tight game they found themselves in, “We are growing”. Certainly there will be some things for the team to work on but they showed great resiliency by fighting back from 20 down to win the game.
Inside the numbers: Michigan was 4-22 on three point field goals and if you take away Zack Novak’s 3-7 the rest of the team was 1-15. They had some good looks at threes and a couple that were down and popped out.
Michigan out rebounded Savannah State 31-19. In addition to Sims 12 boards Manny Harris had 9 rebounds.
Michigan had 19 turnovers against 12 assists. However, in the second half and overtime Michigan had 9 assists against 7 turnovers.
Quotes: After the game I asked Patrick Beilein if they were surprised by the officiating, which was awful. He said it seemed like a road game because they were not getting any calls.
I also asked Laval Lucas-Perry if he was ready to go. He said, without hesitating, “Yep Maryland, Duke, and Eastern, then I can play.” This guy is chomping at the bit to get out there and help his teammates.