Not this time: Michigan uses huge second half to blitz Penn State, 83-66, in Big Ten tourney opener
And then, the Wolverines woke up.
Michigan got 21 points from Trey Burke and a 10 points and 11 rebounds from Mitch McGary as it used a 21-5 second-half run to sprint away from Penn State on Thursday with an 83-66 win during the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago.
With the win fifth-seeded Michigan (26-6) advances to take on fourth-seeded Wisconsin in a 2:30 p.m. quarterfinal Friday.
After starting the game in a slumber, Michigan allowed Penn State to storm out to a 14-3 lead -- bringing back memories of a stunning 84-78 upset loss to the Nittany Lions last month in University Park, Pa.
Michigan led by as many as nine in the first half, but Penn State managed to stay within three at the break.
The Nittany Lions were right there again after Jermaine Marshall connected inside to cut Michigan's advantage to 50-47 with just 13:09 to go.
But from there on, Michigan had -- finally -- seen about enough.
The Wolverines ripped off a quick 7-0 spurt, capped by a Tim Hardaway Jr. free throw, to go up 10 two minutes later.
The lead swelled to 15 after Jon Horford converted a 3-point play inside and Michigan then found itself up as many as 19 after a Nik Stauskas 3-point play made it 71-52 with just 7:11 to go.
In total, Michigan's major second-half run ended at 21-5.
Hardaway finished with 15 points on 5 of 14 shooting for the Wolverines, while Stauskas added 15 points himself.
Horford came off the bench to drop in 11 points and 5 rebounds -- he and McGary combined for 21 points and 16 boards.
-- Mitch McGary kept Michigan in the game during the first half, putting together his best 20 minutes of the season. McGary had a double-double before halftime, putting up 10 points and 10 boards in the first. While the rest of the Wolverines were asleep, McGary was putting in serious work.
-- Jon Horford was no slouch off the bench either, giving Michigan quality minutes inside -- especially after halftime, finishing the game with 11 and 5. Horford was sure-handed around the bucket, played defense inside and help save Michigan after a horrendous day from Jordan Morgan.
-- Burke was uber-smooth in the second half, as per usual. He was 3 of 9 at halftime, but calmly finished the game with 21 points on 7 of 15 shooting.
-- Nik Stauskas continued to stay aggressive on the offensive end, he was very efficient for most of the game, ending his night 4 of 7 from the floor, 2 of 4 from deep and 5 of 5 from the foul line.
-- Michigan started the game looking like it just woke up. The Wolverines did nothing in the first six minutes, allowing Penn State to rip off a 14-0 run and get out to an 11-2 start on the glass. The Wolverines went 1 of 9 from the field during that stretch. A horrible start.
-- Jordan Morgan continues to struggle at the basket. Morgan left six points on the floor in missed layups during the game's first two minutes. A putrid start to the game for him. He finished with 4 points, 2 rebounds and 3 fouls. He was 2 of 6 from the floor.
-- Defense, again, was not great. Penn State still managed to shoot 48.3 percent from the floor, and went shot for shot with the Wolverines for the first 25 minutes.
ISSUE OF THE DAY: REVISITED
Michigan needed this win, badly. A loss would have almost certainly booted Michigan from a slot in Auburn Hills for the NCAA tournament's opening weekend.
The win will certainly give Michigan a bit more breathing room in that department, simply because it avoided another dreadful loss.
Beat Wisconsin on Friday, and things will look a lot much better.
Does Mitch McGary move into John Beilein's starting lineup after Jordan Morgan's no-show Thursday?
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