Michigan still looking for 'big boy basketball' after 79-71 win over Penn State
His team needed to get tougher, and enough was enough.
Michigan wasn't perfect Sunday in a 79-71 win over Penn State, but the Wolverines now realize where they stand -- and know where to go from here.
"This is big boy basketball," Beilein said Sunday. "You're going to get hit, you're going to get shoved, people are going to wall you up and you still have to play through it.
"When you lose a game the way we did at Michigan State and we've got guys with one foul, there's more in you ... you have to give us more, and they understand that."
The Wolverines didn't respond to their embarrassing loss at MSU earlier in the week with a dominating performance over Penn State, the league's worst team. Far from it, actually.
Michigan didn't have much energy at the start of the game, Tim Hardaway Jr. struggled again, the Wolverines were out-rebounded by the Nittany Lions, they continued to have trouble defensively and got a combined 0 points from the four big men they trotted onto the floor.
But, they did win.
And right now, that's enough.
"Toughness, that's the biggest area in growth that we (need)," said Michigan point guard Trey Burke, who finished with a game-high 29 points. "That's the biggest thing we saw at Michigan State, they were the tougher team.
"We've got a lot of young guys and we haven't been used to adversity. We were 16-0 until we lost our first game, we've learned, definitely, from the adversity that we went through."
Aside from Burke being fantastic Sunday (once again), Michigan did get a jolt from two of its youngsters who had been struggling.
Glenn Robinson III bounced back from a rough three weeks with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Nik Stauskas regained his scoring touch, dropping 18 points in the win.
But can that duo perform at a consistent level for the remainder of the regular season?
Can Michigan find toughness?
"There were some moments these last couple weeks (in practice) where we just said 'enough is enough,' " Beilein said. "You don't want to get on them so they lose their confidence, but at the same time, getting tougher is one of those things that's important for us."
The remainder of Michigan's regular season schedule is manageable. There are no more road gauntlets.
The Wolverines will have a week off before hosting Illinois on Sunday. From there, Michigan pays Penn State a return visit before bringing Michigan State in for a rematch at the Crisler Center on March 3.
The season closes with road date at Purdue and a home contest against Indiana.
At 22-4, 9-4, Michigan's not completely dead in the hunt for the Big Ten regular season title. The Wolverines will need some help, as they remain two games behind Michigan State and Indiana.
Stranger things have happened, though. Just look at last season.
"We were just trying to go out there and play as hard as we could," Robinson said. "It starts with defense, and we need to remember what got us here. Some of us were just trying to do what we could do to help the team, but we just need to execute."
Michigan will get a week off to get itself back on the right track. From there, the stretch run starts.
A title isn't out of the question, but it won't happen without toughness.
"Five games left … you can win every one of these games, one day at a time," Beilein told the team in the locker room after the game. "We can win every one of these games and win a championship.
"It's still very much in our reach. You think 14-4 wins a championship in this league?"
We'll find out.
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