Hail To The Victors!
You can officially welcome the University of Michigan Men's Basketball team back to the collegiate basketball scene. The Wolverines beat the Spartans 72-67, for just the 2nd time in the last 14 meetings. The win, at Crisler Arena, bumped Michigan's record to an impressive 14-3 (4-2 in the Big 10), while Michigan State drops to 15-5 (3-3 in the Big 10).
This is a huge win for the Wolverines, and it comes on the heels of a 71-55 victory at Minnesota; their first win at Williams Arena since 1993. The win over the Spartans is also their first win over a ranked team in over 2 years, when they beat Iowa 65-63 on Jan 5, 2004.
Daniel Horton led the charge to choke out the Spartans with 23 points on offense, and played suffocating defense. Chris Hunter added 13 points off the bench, all of them coming in the second half.
State opened up a 28-15 point lead in the first half, and looked like they were going to cruise to another victory over Michigan. The Wolverines came roaring back to take a 48-45 lead on a Hunter 3-pointer, a lead which they would never relinquish.
The turning point came with about 12 minutes left in the 2nd half, when Paul Davis had an open look at a 3, and airballed it. Being psychology weak, Davis couldn't handle the fans and went inside a shell, doing nothing for the rest of the game.
Another key moment was when State had a breakaway, and Maurice Ager threw down a nasty alley-oop. As he was celebrating, my boy Brent Petway, AKA "Air Georgia" took offense to this, and responded by throwing a forearm shiver to Agers nose. Luckily, no technical foul was called, and Ager was humbled by a much bigger, much sweeter Petway.
With 22 seconds to play, Sparty found themselves down by 3 with a chance to tie. Davis had a good look - and preditably bricked - but the rebound came back to him. He dished it to Maurice Ager, who canned a 3, however Izzo had called a timeout while the ball was in his hands, and the basket didn't count. Michigan sank 2 free throws to ice the game.
Noobsports reader J-Strick from Grand Rapids puts it best: "bomp, bomp, bomp-bomp-bomp, another loss for M-S-UUUUUUUUU."
This is great news for University of Michigan basketball fans, as it's been a pretty rough go as of late. Amaker came in and was supposed to be the savior of a program in turmoil. Known for being an excellent recruiter and a great coach, he has been dissapointing to say the least. After not seeing results for a few years, he got Mgoblue.com/mbball back into the pseudo-spotlight by winning the NIT and becoming the 66th best team in the country in 2004. Last year hopes were high as Michigan had a strong returning core, but the loss of Bernard "I'm one of the ugliest men alive" Robinson JR. was too much to handle, as they failed to even make the NIT.
This year, people didn't know what to think... we had our entire team back minus J. C. Mathis and Hayes Grooms, obviously two outstanding players. Optimists like myself thought we had a good chance to compete, maybe sneak into the big dance, while the majority felt that we would be lucky to finish above .500. Not too many people predicted that we would be 14-3 through the first 17 games of the season and looking sharp.
Michigan has done a good job taking care of business this year, especially against teams they should beat. Their only three losses come to respectable teams, all of whom are ranked in the top 25 (UCLA (17), Indiana (13), and Illinois (8)).
I have to say that I'm proud of the way the Maize and Blue are playing, and Amaker seems to have his act together. Michigan is finally getting some love from the national media as well. Yesterday, during halftime of the Kentucky/Auburn game, Digger Phelps picked Michigan as his sleeper team to make it to the Final 4. That may have been a kiss of death, but it shows that Michigan is getting respect. Regardless, it's nice to see Michigan Hoop back on the map.