No. 10 Michigan bounces back with rout against Nebraska
FEB 05, 2014 8:20p ET
Inside the Crisler Center, if it hadn't been for the jorts-clad Maize Rage singing "Happy Birthday" to John Beilein, spectators could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching the Harlem Globetrotters playing the Washington Generals.
Beilein's Wolverines put on a shooting clinic, hitting 13 3-pointers on their way to an easy 79-50 victory. The final score was actually misleading, as Michigan led 49-21 at the half and by as many as 41 points in the second half.
"When you get up by 40, it gets a little challenging for a coach," Beilein said on his post-game radio show. "You want to keep playing, but you also want to slow things down, get your guys off the floor and get the extra rest. We didn't do as well in the last 10 minutes, but that was after a great 30 minutes."
Michigan only won by a single point in Lincoln earlier in the season, and were coming off their first conference loss at Indiana, but never showed any sign of a letdown.
"We played really good basketball tonight," said Beilein, who, as usual, did everything in his power to ignore his 61st birthday. "It really helps us to play in this arena on this floor with these fans. We knew that we got a fortunate win down there, and I'm sure Nebraska came in here thinking they could beat us.
"I wanted to make sure that didn't happen, and our guys responded with a championship-level performance."
The most impressive thing for Michigan? They hit all those threes on a night where Nik Stauskas spent most of the game playing provider instead of gunner. With the Cornhuskers focused on stopping his jumper, Stauskas only took three shots all night, hitting one, but had eight assists and five rebounds.
Stauskas also held the leading scorer in Big Ten play, sophomore Terran Petteway, to five points on 2-for-10 shooting.
"We challenged Nik before the game," Beilein said. "We told him that everyone talks about his 3-point shooting, but no one ever talks about the other things he can do. He played great defense against the best scorer in the conference and he helped us score 80 points on a night where he only took a couple shots. That's the kind of player he has become."
Stauskas wasn't the only one passing the ball, as Michigan finished with 21 assists on 52 field-goal attempts. The biggest benefactor might have been freshman Zak Irvin, who came off the bench to score 16 first-half points. At one point, Irvin hit four straight 3-pointers and was outscoring Nebraska by himself.
"Zak came out with some jump tonight, didn't he," asked Glenn Robinson III, who led Michigan with 23 points. "He had tremendous lift and he was knocking down shots."
Robinson and Jon Horford combined for 30 points on 19 shots, taking advantage of Nebraska's post defense as the Cornhuskers scrambled to stop all of the 3-pointers.
"We were coming off the loss, but we learned from that game, and we wanted to get back to playing Michigan basketball," Robinson said. "We wanted our swagger back and to play with an edge, and we did that. Our defense was the biggest part -- our goal is to hold teams under 60, and we held them to 50, and only 21 in the first half."
Nebraska coach Tim Miles was even able to chuckle a little after the game, knowing his team had simply run into a buzzsaw.
"When guys get to be 61, it can be tough on the heart, so we wanted to make sure there were no problems tonight," he joked in his post-game press conference. "Happy birthday, John."