The Wolverines gave their coach a very happy birthday present with a convincing 71-51 win over Penn State. I for one finally exhaled as the season was teetering on the brink of disaster heading into the game. Michigan did exactly what they had to do and they did it with strong, hustling defense and patient execution on the offensive end.
Manny Harris said that Coach Beilein challenged him at the half to be more patient. Harris was more then up to the challenge as he led his team in a dominant second half performance in which they outscored Penn State 40-20.
Credit CJ Lee as he started the game and played tough defense on the Big Ten’s leading scorer, Talor Battle, and helped frustrate him into a 3-16 shooting performance for 9 points. Lee also ran the offense like a true floor general scoring 5 points to go along with 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
Manny Harris played one of his best all around games and as Gus Johnson said was a real “stat stuffa”. Manny stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 28 points, 7 dimes, 6 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. The most important stats might have been his 7-13 shooting and only two turnovers.
Stu Douglass chipped in 13 points with some timely three point daggers. DeShawn Sims came off the bench and added 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The story of the game was definitely Michigan’s defense. Jamelle Cornley scored 25 points but the rest of the Nittany Lions combined for 26 points. Michigan forced 13 turnovers and logged 7 steals and 6 blocks in the game.
The much needed win boosted Michigan’s record to 15-8 and 5-6 in the conference. Next up is a trip to Storrs, Connecticut to take on the #1 ranked Huskies on Saturday. That will be followed by a quick turnaround to a Tuesday home game against Michigan State.
The road to 21 wins: This was a game I had them projected to win and a game they had to win. Let’s just take this one game at time from here on out. You don’t have to be a bracketologist to figure out that a win at Connecticut would be gigantic.