By Basketball Writer: Drew Montag
It was Livestock Week for the (#19) University of Michigan men’s basketball team last week. They played the “cows” (Michigan State) and the “hogs” (Arkansas), and they won one and lost one. On Tuesday (01/17/2012) they beat (#9) MSU 60-59 in Crisler Arena, thenon Saturday (01/21/2012) they lost at Arkansas 66-64. This brings Michigan’s record to 15-5 (5-2 in the Big Ten).
Both games were exciting, and both games came down to the visiting team taking the last shot with a chance to win the game. In both games, the last-ditch shots failed. In the MSU game, our old buddy Draymond Green missed a runner with about 2 seconds left, and his follow-up tip-in attempt also missed, even though it wouldn’t have counted anyway, since the horn had already sounded. In the Arkansas game, Trey Burke got off a good 3-point attempt at the buzzer, and it rimmed out.
UM played a very good game vs. the Farmers Spartans, getting ahead early and keeping a comfortable lead for most of the game. After leading by 7 points (36-29) at halftime, Michigan pushed the lead up as high as 11 points (47-36) with about 12 minutes left in the game. Everyone knew that MSU would have a run at some point in the game, and this was the point. State went on a 16-2 run, and led 52-49 with 5:47 left to play. The rest of the game was very tense, with UM recapturing the lead with 37 seconds left, and MSU holding for the last shot, which didn’t go in. When the final horn sounded, the place exploded, and a certain usher in the upper bowl might have behaved less than professionally.
Oh yeah, in case you haven’t heard, Michigan has beaten MSU 3 times in a row now in basketball.
The good news here is that Michigan won a big rivalry game, and looked good doing it. They are also tied for 1st place in the Big Ten. The bad news is that UM has had one of the easiest Big Ten schedules so far, and they play most of their remaining games on the road, or against the other contenders, or both.
The Arkansas game was the exact opposite of the MSU game: Michigan got down early, fell way behind, and spent the whole game playing “catch-up”. Arkansas started the game as hot as any team I have ever seen. They hit their first 11 shots, including a few 3-pointers, and built up a 20-point lead midway through the 1st half. Michigan never gave up, and they managed to close the gap to “only” 13 points at halftime (46-33). They kept scrapping and clawing, and got within 2 points a few times in the closing minutes of the game, including the final 7.6 seconds. Burke got open, took the shot, and … oh well.